Charlotte Sun (Port Charlotte, FL) – Friday, May 10, 2013
SOUTH OF PUNTA GORDA — New details have emerged in the animal -cruelty investigation that turned into a marijuana grow house bust April 23, according to Charlotte County Animal Control.
Pablo Cauz, 49, of the 32600 block of Oil Well Road, Punta Gorda, could face animal neglect and cruelty charges after authorities seized nearly 90 animals from his farm, including many that were malnourished and abused, according to Animal Control.
Eight of those animals later died.
‘Some were euthanized,’ said Animal Control Officer Reannon Juergensen. ‘It would have been cruel to keep them alive. The others were so far gone, they just didn’t make it.’
Animal Control officers found a grisly scene when they arrived at Cauz’s home April 23, after receiving complaints from neighbors that his livestock was being neglected.
Juergensen described 85 to 90 animals loose on the 2.5-acre property. There were pigs, goats, chickens and one horse, in addition to two baby alligators that were kept as pets in an outdoor tub.
‘It was a sad sight,’ Juergensen said. ‘There were a multitude of issues; animals were underweight and malnourished, and the living conditions were deplorable.’
Juergensen said Cauz was feeding the animals buckets of what she described as ‘rotting slop.’ She said maggots had gotten into the sealed food containers and were seeping out of cracks.
‘He was feeding the animals , but the food was unsubstantial and unsafe to eat,’ she said.
The animals also were living in unsafe conditions and existing among garbage, nails and construction materials that posed a threat to their health, Juergensen said.
In addition to the animals , Animal Control officers found a marijuana grow house in a detached garage containing more than 80 plants and nearly 10 pounds of marijuana, a previous Charlotte County Sheriff’s report stated. Deputies arrested Cauz, who reportedly told a CCSO detective that he set up the marijuana grow house for personal use.
Cauz was charged with manufacturing marijuana, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana and illegal possession of an American alligator. He currently is being held at the Charlotte County Jail on $42,500 bond.
The alligators were turned over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, but the other animals were taken in by Animal Control.
Animal Control completed its investigation Thursday and sent its findings to the 20th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office. Samantha Syoen, spokeswoman for the SAO, said the office is reviewing the investigation and will decide whether Cauz will face additional charges in the next couple of weeks.
As for the surviving animals , all but three dogs have been adopted to new homes.
‘You can tell (the dogs) are damaged,’ said Lori Johnson, who works at the Animal Welfare League in Charlotte Harbor. ‘You go to pet them, and they immediately cower.’
Johnson said the dogs will not be adoptable until they complete an animal -rehabilitation program.