MANATEE -- Several animals, including livestock, were removed from an abandoned home in east Bradenton after deputies were called to investigate an animal cruelty complaint Wednesday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators found a menagerie at a residence in the 3800 block of 38th Avenue East -- all in poor condition -- as was the carcass of a large hog.
Five pigs, four sheep, a baby lamb, three hens and five roosters were removed by the sheriff's office with the assistance of an inmate work crew.
Animal control also took possession of four dogs.
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The complaint came in a 911 call at 9:43 a.m. Wednesday.
"The complainant was concerned for the well-being of the pigs and sheep," Deputy Dawn Atkinson said.
Atkinson was first to arrive 20 minutes after being dispatched and quickly saw signs of trouble.
Hog rooting, when a hog digs for acorns with its snout, was visible in the front yard, an indication hogs were roaming the property.
"The gate was locked, and there was a no-trespassing sign, but I was worried there were dogs and I saw a couple pigs," Atkinson said.
The deputy, a former detective, jumped the fence and walked toward the back of the property to discover more neglected animals. She reported pigs and dogs all appeared thin and were running around as if hungry but not aggressive.
She then came across pens where two smaller pigs, roosters and chickens were kept. There was no sign of feed or water.
The deciding moment to
call backup came when the 32-year-veteran of the sheriff's office saw the carcass of a large hog weighing somewhere between 400 to 500 pounds.
"In all my years in law enforcement and on the road, I've never seen anything like this," Atkinson said.
Sgt. Rob Hendrickson, a fellow member of the multi-agency Animal Abuse Coalition, agreed with the deputy's evaluation.
"Not only did they not have water, but they couldn't get to water," Hendrickson said. "What's in the best interest of the animals is to take them."
The livestock were more difficult to remove than the dogs. They were taken to the Manatee County jail farm facilities after being seen by a large-animal vet.
"We have to be careful. We don't want to expose healthy animals to sick animals," Hendrickson said.
Another deputy will take over the investigation, interview the suspects and take the case from there, Atkinson said. Charges against the property owner are pending, according to spokesman Dave Bristow.
Cantos was one of the listed property owners, according to the Manatee Property Appraiser's website.
The home on the property was abandoned about three years ago after being destroyed by an electrical fire, according to Hendrickson.
The case will eventually be forwarded to Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro in the animal division. Also part of the Animal Abuse Coalition, she has been made aware of the pending case.
Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.