EAST MANATEE -- A judge has signed ownership of more than 300 animals seized last month during a raid at an East Manatee animal sanctuary to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, clearing the way for them to be adopted, authorities said.
The order was signed Thursday after the owners of Napier's Log Cabin Horse Animal Sanctuary, 20010 State Road 64 E., reached an agreement with the sheriff's office.
Under the agreement, the daughter of owners Alan and Sheree Napier will get custody of two confiscated horses, the sheriff's office said. The daughter had taken ownership of the horses before the sheriff's office petition.
The remaining animals, which include dogs, cats, horses and pigs, have been placed with shelters. The agreement allows the shelters to begin finding per
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manent homes for the animals.
The sheriff's office executed a search warrant at the Napiers' animal rescue Feb. 5 as it launched an investigation into possible animal cruelty and fraud. No arrests have been made.
Directors at Nate's Honor Animal Rescue in Lakewood Ranch, which took in 82 dogs and cats, said they were relieved at the news Thursday.
"It's all very exciting, but the unfortunate thing we have to remember is these animals are not adoption ready," said Karen Slomba, Nate's Honor Animal Rescue associate director. "It's great that they are eligible, but we still have heath issues to deal with."
Most animals still need to be spayed and neutered, and many need dental work, she added. "Now we can do that," Slomba said.
Spaying and neutering requires ownership or permission from the animal's owner. About 70 percent of the animals taken from Napier's to Honor require sterilization, according to Slomba.
"Our policy is that the all animals that leave our facility must be spayed or neutered," Executive Director Dari Oglesby said. "Our animals get neutered at the Humane Society, and they took animals in, too, so it's going to be a while before they can get to ours."
Both directors said they are excited to start the adoption process as soon as possible. "These guys have suffered long enough," Oglesby said. "When they walk out of here, we want them healthy and ready to head to their adoptive homes."
One challenge will be to find enough veterinarians to schedule so many necessary procedures. Additionally, the rescues have stretched shelter resources to the breaking point.
Anyone interested in making a donation to help an animal shelter can contact the Manatee Community Foundation Animal Welfare Fund at 941-747-7765.
Anyone interested in adopting any animals should contact the individual animal rescues and shelters.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.