A North Port man was arrested and charged with 35 felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and 26 misdemeanor counts of confinement of animals without sufficient food and water, according to a Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office press release.
Andrew Gerberich was being held in the Sarasota County jail on bonds totaling $915,000.
Animal services officers responded to a welfare check on Friday to the home of Gerberich, 60, of the 5000 block of White Ibis Drive, according to the report.
According to the North Port Fire Department, officers discovered cat feces, urine, insects and garbage scattered throughout the residence. Twenty-six cats were removed from the home and nine dead cats were discovered, most in skeletal remains.
“I know it’s criminal neglect. You can see I’ve neglected the place,” said Gerberich, according to the narrative in the probable cause affadavit dated Tuesday.
Several cats suffered from upper respiratory, eye and ear infections. Some resorted to cannibalism, according to the sheriff’s office.
Gerberich surrendered the cats to the custody of animal services. According to the affadavit, he told investigators he got the cats while serving as a cat rescue but then was unable to care for them due to financial struggles.
North Port Police and Fire Rescue responded to his residence on June 20 to provide medical care to his wife, Kym, who was found on the bedroom floor surrounded by the filth. Animal services was then referred for a follow up, according to the affadavit.