LARGO, Fla. (WFLA) — Details are emerging about a disturbing animal cruelty case in Pinellas County.
Deputies arrested 38-year-old Terrell Coley over the weekend. Investigators said two children were living in terrible conditions, along with 32 pit bull terriers in handmade wood kennels.
Pinellas County deputies and animal services removed them from Coley’s home Saturday. Four of the dogs had minor injuries, according to Animal Services.
Court documents said Coley was conducting unlicensed breeding and had the makes of a dog fighting operation.
Deputies said two children under 14 were in Coley’s care and inside the home with no food or supplies. The children are OK and are with a family member, according to PCSO
“Years ago it should have been taken care of,” Linden Brown said.
Linden Brown knows Coley well. He said they were neighbors for several years and he had concerns about the dogs then.
“We filed affidavits with the animal control, code enforcement. I even contacted the district supervisor who referred me back to code enforcement,” Brown said. “There just was a lot of what-ifs going on that we just can’t explain.”
Animal services responded to Coley’s address nine times prior to this event for barking and welfare concerns.
“It’s always concerning to us,” Pinellas County Animal Services Director Doug Brightwell said. “We have been aware of this dog owner and suspected activities, but again it takes sometimes nothing but good timing as much as anything else to get the break you need.”
Brown said he has fought for years to get the dogs in a safe environment.
“That just reaffirms all the information and the pictures and the documentations that we presented to animal control that they refused to respond to and deal with the problem before it went to another neighborhood,” Brown said. “[Hopefully this will] discourage anybody else who’s trying to use a loophole of living in unincorporated Largo to do things that they shouldn’t be doing illegally.”
Deputies also discovered cocaine, multiple firearms, and ammunition inside the home. A large amount of white powder was found and test results are pending.
Coley was arrested and charged two counts felony child neglect, four counts aggravated cruelty to animals, 29 counts animal cruelty, two counts felon in possession of a firearm, one count possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, one count possession of cocaine. Additional charges are pending.
Coley was taken to the Pinellas County Jail.