Case Snapshot
Case ID: 19992
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: cat, dog (non pit-bull), horse
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Person(s) in animal care
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Wednesday, Feb 5, 2014

County: Manatee

Disposition: Alleged

Alleged:
» Alan Napier
» Sheree Napier

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

The stench was overwhelming.

The hardwood floors were spongy with urine.

Kibble was scattered over dried up feces inside the rusty cages.

Animals were everywhere.

So were fleas.

That was the scene described Wednesday by law enforcement officers and animal rescue workers who raided Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary in east Manatee County.

Hundreds of animals are being seized from the 10-acre property on State Road 64 as part of a criminal investigation into animal cruelty and fraud. An anonymous tip sparked the investigation in December, leading to the execution of a search warrant at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.

"I've been doing this job for 33 years, and I have never seen anything this horrible," said Manatee County Sheriff's Capt. Lorenzo Waiters. "It's hard to put in words.

"You try to imagine it in your head, but you go back and see it, and it's worse than you could ever imagine."

Workers tended to what could be as many as 300 dogs, dozens of cats, nine horses, as well as pigs, geese, chickens and goats.

EMS arrived to treat one worker who was bitten by a dog.

The animals ranged in age, breed and condition, officials said. Three veterinarians were on scene to treat animals.

"None were dead," sheriff's spokesman Dave Bristow said. "But some may have to be euthanized."

Representatives with animal shelters across the region -- including Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, Manatee County and Lakewood Ranch humane societies and Second Chance Boxer Rescue -- were called to pick up some of the smaller animals.

"It's a happy day for these animals," said Chris Legge from the Humane Society of Lakewood Ranch, which took three of the dogs.

The horses were taken to Whispering Ranches in Myakka City, where an employee specializes in equine nutrition.

"They need more than what the jail has the ability to do," Sgt. Rob Hendrickson said, referencing the sheriff's farm at the jail.

Crews were planning to work through Wednesday night and into today -- evaluating, numbering, photographing and removing the animals.

The owners of the property, Alan and Sheree Napier, were not home when the search warrant was executed. Family members did arrive late that morning, frustrated with what was happening.

An attorney for the Napiers, Adron H. Walker, said the couple had informed Animal Services that they would be out of town this week and their children would be caring for the animals.

"The closure has happened despite every effort on the part of Alan and Sheree to cooperate with all possible governmental agencies that regulate the care of animals," Walker said in a statement issued Wednesday night.

No one has been arrested, but the investigation is ongoing. According to the sanctuary's website, the not-for-profit rescue has been in operation since 2004.

The Napiers own two other properties on Wingate and Ballard roads.

Bristow said the sheriff's office is aware of those locations, but said they were not part of Wednesday's raid.

Personnel from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, Animal Services, Building Department, Health Department, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Committee, Florida Department of Agriculture and State Attorney's Office were on scene.

"It's worse than what we anticipated," Bristow said. "This is hoarding animals. Have you ever heard of that many animals in one place?"


Case Updates

Exclusive video from 10 News shows Alan Napier and his wife Sheree taken away in handcuffs by Manatee Sheriff's deputies Thursday afternoon on 15 counts of aggravated animal cruelty charges and one count of fraud.

"He's been allowed to get away with an awful lot -- why?" asks animal activist Deborah Bird who's referring to the recently updated website for Alan Napier's Animal Sanctuary which shows it appears to be open for business under a new name Napier's Family Farm and Animal Rescue.

"Animals on the website do not look in good condition. One is heartworm positive with dry eye and is obviously a breeder dog. The Pomeranian looks very sick too."

Manatee Sheriff deputies closed Napier's back in February during a raid that found about 300 animals consisting mostly of dogs and cats with some farm animals and horses which deputies said appeared to be abused and living in poor conditions.

"He needs to be in jail," says Bird.

Napier has spent the last couple of months cleaning up the property.

"It's up to us not to let him start up again," says Bird.

Napier's new website explains he takes in homeless animals that would be put down to assist with the county's mission to be a "No-Kill" community. He lists the number of animals Manatee Animal Services has transferred to him since 2010 -- 286 total -- and how many animals he's helped find homes, including 14 so far this year. But there's no mention of the raid.

Bird says Alan Napier's arrest along with his wife Sheree is in memory of the animals.

"So many knew nothing but suffering," says Bird.

She says many animals have been saved, have new homes and are thriving, and for those that didn't make it, "this is for them."

10 News reached out to Alan Napier about his website. We spoke to him on the phone and twice he told us no comment.

The Manatee County Sheriff's Office says the investigation continues and more charges are possible.
Source: 10 News - April 18, 2014
Update posted on Apr 20, 2014 - 2:28AM 
Investigators found the remains of 20 dogs and cats Thursday as the investigation into animal cruelty at Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary continued into a second day, the Manatee County Sheriff's Office reported.

More than 300 animals were confiscated Wednesday, including dogs, cats, horses, geese, hogs and goats, during the initial raid by the sheriff's office and other agencies. About 12 rescued animals had to be euthanized, the sheriff's office said in a news release.

When investigators returned to the nonprofit at 20010 State Road 64 E. they discovered animal remains buried in a shallow mass grave at the back of the property.

"There was a couple areas of disturbed soil so we figured we would start there," Sgt. Rob Hendrickson of the sheriff's office said.

The remains appeared to have been buried at different times, he said.

Investigators also searched the home again.

"We are trying to make sure we didn't miss anything," Hendrickson said. "(Wednesday's) concern was mostly about the animals, (Thursday) we are looking at details."

No arrests have been made. Owners

Allan and Sheree Napier could face charges of animal cruelty and fraud once the investigation is complete, according to investigators.

The Napiers also have properties at 4957 Wingate Road and 39760 Ballard Road in Myakka City, according to the Manatee Property Appraiser's website. Investigators visited the Wingate Road site Thursday to determine if there was any animal abuse there. An investigator spoke with family members living on the property, looked at the animals and took pictures.

Four horses kept in a separate pasture next to the home were so thin their rib cages were visible. They only had a scattered pile of dirty hay contaminated with feces to eat.

The last live animal was removed just before 7 p.m. Wednesday. Patrol deputies stayed at the property all night to secure the crime scene, according to Hendrickson.

Of the animals seized, 63 dogs and 13 cats were taken to Nate's Honor Animal Rescue where officials said they were doing well.

"Last night all animals were seen," board member Cam McCarthy said Thursday. "They were vaccinated, groomed and bathed, if necessary, and they were all examined by a veterinarian."

Five animals required medical attention and were separated from the others, she said. "Of course, all of them had fleas and ticks. Then we tucked them into kennels making sure they have plenty food and water. We now have our volunteers sitting with them and socializing with them."

Nate's Honor exceeded capacity with the large number of rescued animals but they are managing, she said.

"Their care is not being sacrificed," McCarthy said. "We have asked all our volunteers to come in and help."

The animal rescue needs monetary donations, she said.

A new Animal Coalition Abuse Team was partly responsible for the bust Wednesday, County Commissioner Carol Whitmore said Thursday.

The task force, formed about 18 months ago, includes a variety of agencies to generate collective clout. Member agencies include the Manatee County Sheriff's Office; municipalities such as Bradenton, Palmetto and Holmes Beach; animal rescue groups; and the State Attorney's Office, she said.

The task force meets every three months, she said.

"Everybody went in as a team" once a citizen complained about the animal abuse that led to Wednesday's bust, said Whitmore.

"Manatee County is not going to tolerate a human being or an animal abused," said Whitmore. "We'll put you in jail."

Rescued animals cannot be adopted yet, but officials say they hope the public will adopt others to help with the overflow.

On its Facebook page, the Humane Society of Manatee County said seized animals will not be available for adoption for at least two weeks. The Humane Society said it welcomes calls about the animals "but calls about the seized animals who are not available can take valuable staff time."

Call Manatee County Animal Services at 941-742-5933 with questions about adopting other animals to ease the overflow.

Animal Services facilities and local rescue groups have been overwhelmed by the large number of rescued animals. To donate food or supplies for the animals, or supply information about the case, call the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011, ext. 1151
Source: The St. Augustine Record - Feb 8, 2014
Update posted on Feb 9, 2014 - 7:08PM 
The attorney for the owners of Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary released a statement regarding the investigation.

The couple's lawyer is urging people not to jump to conclusions.

The statement read in part "a sloppy hoarder does not equate, however, to an animal abuser. Therefore, in the meantime I must implore everyone to keep an open mind."

The attorney also talked about the recent graves uncovered on the property.

Investigators found 20 dogs and cats buried at the site but the Napier's attorney says the public should consider that the animals may have arrived in poor condition or may have simply died due to age -- that it wouldn't be uncommon to bury an animal in someone's backyard.

Investigators raided the sanctuary this week and rescued 300 animals.

The full statement is below:

"As the attorney for Alan and Sheree Napier, I must implore the press and the public not to rush to judgment regarding Alan and Sheree. There are many statements being made and some pictures, particularly with regard to the buried animals, being published that, when first heard or seen, can be quite upsetting.

Alan and Sheree have been gone this week, and we are finding them a trial attorney. At that point, their side of the story will be told, and there are always two sides to every story. Further, we already know, and I will admit, that Alan and Sheree and their story will not be perfect -- everyone now knows now that they were sloppy and hoarded. A sloppy hoarder does not equate, however, to an animal abuser. Therefore, In the meantime, I must implore everyone to keep an open mind. Remember that statements and photographs only document the situation at one moment in time. Please consider the source of a statement -- all of us have our biases -- some more than others. Also, consider the same fact or photograph can be seen from different perspectives.

Let me provide just three among many examples of the effect of different perspectives or lack of content:

1. The first is the fact that some of the press is reporting that the remains of dogs and cats have been found at the Napier sanctuary. The hearing of this fact or the seeing of such pictures is naturally upsetting and disturbing for all of us pet owners. If we think a minute, however, we would remember that (a) unfortunately, dogs and cats have relatively short lifespans, (b) Alan and Sheree took in very sick or unadoptable animals from Manatee County Animal Services and private individuals, whereas most animal rescue organizations do not, (c) Alan and Sheree committed to keeping animals they could not adopt out for their lifetimes, and (d) Alan and Sheree had, at any one time, 200-300 animals. Should it not then be expected, and, in fact, wasn't it inevitable, that some of these animals would die at the sanctuary? Don't all of us pet owners have pets buried or their ashes spread in our backyards, or cremated by our veterinarians and disposed of elsewhere? None of us have abused our animals simply by virtue of having buried them.

2. According to the press, the Manatee Sheriff's Office has now admitted that it or Manatee County Animal Services has euthanized 12 of Alan's and Sheree's rescued animals. Was it because these animals were too ill to be cured, or was it that the cure for these animals was too costly or they were considered too unadoptable to be worth the cure in the County's mind? Alan and Sheree, however, once told me they paid for medical care without considering whether the treatment was "cost effective" or the animal was adoptable. (Yes, in fact, they do have veterinarians.) While I will not presume to know the answers, two fair questions to ask are: "But for this raid, would those 12 pets be alive today? As to those 12 pets, would they be better off alive today rather than euthanized yesterday?"

3. One media outlet reported that four horses with visible ribs were found in a pasture with "only a scattered pile of dirty hay contaminated with feces to eat." Having two horses myself, I know how quickly horses can spoil their hay and how quickly they can eat their hay. Again, when, in fact, were the horses last fed? How long had they been at Napier's? What was their condition when they arrived? The horses were in a pasture -- did it have grass?

Again, please keep an open mind and do not rush to judgment. The other side to this story has yet to be told."
Source: Bay News 9 - Feb 9, 2014
Update posted on Feb 9, 2014 - 6:10PM 

References

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