Manatee Animal Services advisory board members claim they were misled about Napier

jdeleon@bradenton.comMay 15, 2014 

The entrance to Napier's Log Cabin Horse Animal Sanctuary. The owners of the East Manatee animal sanctuary were arrested Thursday on several animal cruelty charges. AMARIS CASTILLO/Bradenton Herald

MANATEE -- The Manatee County Animal Services Advisory Board will send a letter to the Manatee County Board of Commissioners to report they were misled about conditions at the distressed Napier animal rescue facility.

At a quarterly meeting Wednesday night, the board approved a letter to be sent to Manatee County commissioners.

Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary, 20010 State Road 64, was raided Feb. 5 by a multi-law enforcement effort led by the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.

Owners Alan and Sheree Napier were arrested April 17 after the investigation.

Alan Napier was charged with 15 counts of animal cruelty and one county of unlawful solicitation of funds. Sheree Napier was charged with 14 counts of animal cruelty.

The couple could still face more charges.

The letter dealing with the reliability of information provided to commissioners by the Manatee County Animal Services Advisory Board was drafted by advisory board member Jean Peelen, who read the letter aloud at the meeting before the public comment allowed before a vote.

"We base our recommendations largely on information provided to us by animal services," Peelen read aloud. "Unfortunately, regarding the Napier's refuge, the informa

tion we got from animal services was far from reliable. It was misleading."

Advisory board members also did not know at least 276 dogs and cats from animal services "were given to a horrible place called Napier's," the letter added.

"The question about whether we should be giving animals to Napier's was because we had been hearing that the community had raised issues about it," Peelen read. "We were told as recently as November 2013 that Napier was borderline, but OK."

Board members also claimed in the letter to be unaware of at least 20 complaints about Napier's over the years.

"Then the raid on Napier's occurred," Peelen said. "Quite a number of people onsite with the raid have said that no one could have walked 10 feet onto the property without smelling the horrible smell of decay, sickness and animal waste."

Following the reading, some board members said it was unnecessary to tell commission members what they already knew, while others insisted it was necessary to go on record.

Before voting on the letter, the advisory board listened to public comment.

"The county commission and you can only act on what you are told," said Barbara Hines of Holmes Beach. "Quite frankly you weren't misled. You were lied to."

Betty Kish said she was in favor of sending the letter.

"I see a lot of disinterest here," said. "It's about time we stop pushing things under the rug and realize there are lies being told."

It was time for the truth to come out, she said.

"I applaud Jean for fighting you all," Kish said.

The Animals Services Advisory Board will meet next at 5:45 p.m. July 9 at the Manatee County Central Library.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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