CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Police arrested the operator of a Citrus County animal rescue on 25 counts of animal cruelty.
According to the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, Robert Schweickert Jr., 56, operator of Out of the Box Animal Rescue, was arrested at his rescue on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Deputies had received multiple complaints regarding the conditions at Out of the Box Animal Rescue.
When deputies arrived at the rescue, they say, Schweickert refused to let deputies into the rescue and he was arrested.
The sheriff’s office says animal cruelty officers say they discovered numerous code violations including several kennels left outside in the elements with no coverage as well as several dogs needing medical care and were infested with fleas.
The sheriff’s office added that one dog was also found living in an old walk-in freezer type unit that doubled as a storage room with no widows, no ventilation, and the dog was locked inside.
“Thank you to our resilient Animal Control Officers who work diligently to protect our animal friends here in Citrus County. And thank you to those citizens who had the courage to speak up and get these animals the help they needed,” Citrus County Sheriff Mike Prendergast said.
In addition, Citrus County Fire Rescue’s Hazmat Unit responded to take air quality readings for case evidence and had to leave the building and put on full breathing gear due to the levels of ammonia in the buildings.
A total of 43 dogs, 3 hens, and 1 pig were removed and transported to the Citrus County Animal Shelter.
Schweickert has been charged with 25 counts of cruelty to animals and additional charges are pending.
His current bond is set at $12,500.
If you suspect animal cruelty, abuse or neglect, you can call the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at (352) 249-2790.