MANATEE — An East Manatee animal shelter that closed after a recent raid by authorities has been deemed a “sanitary nuisance” by the Manatee County Health Department.
“The property owners were creating a sanitary nuisance on the property by allowing the accumulation of animal feces, rotting vegetables, and maintaining conditions which represent rodent harborage and fly-breeding,” wrote Tom Larkin, the health department’s environmental health manager, according to county documents.
The property owners have 30 days to correct conditions, upon receipt of a letter notifying them of deficiencies.
Earlier this month, a multi-agency law enforcement effort led by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office executed a search warrant at the Napier Family Farm and Animal Rescue, 20010 State Road 64 E., rescuing roughly 300 animals from deplorable conditions, officials said.
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The animal rescue shelter is owned by Sheree and Alan Napier, who said they were innocent of wrongdoing, and had taken in many sick animals in an attempt to save them, their attorney, Peter Lombardo, has told the Herald.
The couple plans to oppose a petition filed in court Friday by Manatee County Sheriff Brad Steube, seeking custody of animals taken from their property Feb. 5 and on later occasions.
No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the case, which is still being investigated, officials said.
Manatee County officials said they plan to conduct an internal audit to evaluate how complaints about animal cruelty at the Napier’s property have been handled.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.