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Details emerge in animal abuse case that overwhelmed Manatee County Animal Services

Mya was pictured last week during a time when the Manatee County Animal Services shelter was overwhelmed with new dogs following the latest animal abuse case.
Mya was pictured last week during a time when the Manatee County Animal Services shelter was overwhelmed with new dogs following the latest animal abuse case. gjefferies@bradenton.com

Evidence of breeding dogs for fighting are emerging in the animal abuse case that overwhelmed Manatee County Animal Services last week.

According to documents filed in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court, a total of 45 dogs were seized from two Bradenton properties and one Palmetto property after search warrants were executed June 14 by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and Animal Services.

Robert and Elizabeth Reyes, along with Maria Jazo are facing multiple counts of animal abuse, according to the court documents and the Reyes were being held in state custody at the time the petition was filed.

On June 14, search warrants were executed at 2516 15th St. E. Bradenton owned by Jazo, and 4315 26th Ave. E. Bradenton, as well as 3015 61st St. E. in Palmetto, owned by the Reyes.

At Jazo’s property, 23 pit bulls were seized, 19 were seized at the Reyes’ 4315 address, and three more were taken from their 3015 address. According to the documents, the warrants were executed to search for “Any dogs or other evidence believed to be in use in dog fighting/gambling.”

At Jazo’s property, most of the dogs were in large dog kennels and one was chained to an anchor without proper shelter. At the Reyes’ two properties, authorities noted that the conditions were “less than ideal and 12 of the dogs were identified as requiring medical attention.”

At the property where the three dogs were seized, one was chained to an anchor and had multiple scars on the body and head. Two “older pups” were in a cage with improper shelter.

“Due to the conditions of most of the dogs and signs of neglect, a total of 45 dogs were impounded and one dog’s remains were transported to MCAS’s Palmetto headquarters,” the court petition to take custody of the animals away from the suspects stated.

MCAS conducted a cruelty examination on several of the dogs and discovered signs “consistent with dog fighting.”

A female pit bull was found to have her teeth filed down, something the documents say is “a common practice with breeding female fighting dogs.”

A number of dogs were found to have tumors, scars, were emaciated, malnourished, had eye injuries, lacerations, heart worms, pressure sores and more.

The petition asks the court to hold a hearing no later than June 24 to determine custody of the animals. In the meantime, costs to MCAS has exceeded $8,900 to care for the influx of animals and the shelter continues to be overwhelmed with a need for space.

Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said the community call for help was effective last weekend for people to adopt those dogs available for adoption and unrelated to the case, but that dozens more strays were found over the same weekend.

If you are seeking a “forever friend,” visit the shelter at 305 25th St. W. in Palmetto.

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