An Oldsmar woman and her boyfriend are still in jail after deputies say they found 300 animals living at the couple's home.
Jennifer Kovacs and her boyfriend Jeffrey O'Neil faced a Pinellas County judge Monday on charges of animal cruelty and child abuse. Deputies say the couple had initially called them Sunday to report a missing 16 month-old girl they were caring for, but investigators discovered a relative had the child, after finding O'Neil passed out drunk. An animal cruelty investigation started once deputies found nearly 300 animals living in a bedroom, on the porch and in the backyard of the home.
"This is a huge number for any shelter to get," said Joey White, a vet assistant with the SPCA Tampa Bay.
Staff here spent Monday taking inventory of the dozens and dozens of animals than came on campus because of the case: Exotic snakes, a monitor, geckos, hamsters, squirrels, birds, rabbits, hedgehogs and more than a hundred mice.
Some of the animals have fleas, mites or ear infections. Investigators think the couple were planning on selling some of the animals, possibly at local flea markets.
"This is the biggest [seizure] in our history." said Martha Boden, CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay. "There are very few organizations that can safely house that many animals."
Some of the animals could eventually come up for adoption. Other animal welfare organizations from across the country will likely take in the more niche animals, like the exotic snakes.
SPCA staff members are scrambling to find proper cages since the number of small rodents is so large. They are also in desperate need of Aspen Wood shavings for bedding.
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