A parent's frantic call for their missing child, turned into a large animal abuse investigation in Oldsmar.
Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies were called to 206 Lee Street Sunday morning to take a report of a missing 16-month-old girl. While inside the home, deputies found a note from a relative explaining they had picked the little girl up. The note said the relative tried to wake up the parents, but they were passed out and the baby was crying.
Deputies discovered deplorable conditions inside the home and found hundreds of caged animals in the garage, living room, bedrooms, and backyard.
"You can't let the animals over take you and basically that's what it is," said homeowner Joyce Kovacs, 63.
Kovacs said all of the animals belonged to her live-in daughter, Jennifer Kovacs, 26, and her boyfriend, Jeffrey O'Neil, 28. The couple was arrested Sunday and charged with animal cruelty and child abuse.
"I've been begging my daughter and her boyfriend that it was getting out of control," said Kovacs.
The child is now in the custody of O'Neil's mother. The SPCA is trying to get custody of all 298 animals removed from the home. The list includes snakes, squirrels, lizards, rats, mice, and hedgehogs.
"The smell is very overpowering," said SPCA Investigator Jill Purl. "The cages were filthy, the rats were living in their own urine."
Kavocs said the unemployed couple was trying to sell the animals to make money.
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