CLEWISTON, Fla. - Animal Control officers made a big rescue Tuesday in Clewiston in a case they called borderline animal hoarding.
Officers removed more than 250 dogs and puppies from one woman's property after the owner said she was overwhelmed trying to care for them.
Overall, Animal Control officers say the dogs are in good condition. Officers say they began working with the owner after getting emails concerning how many animals she was keeping. On Tuesday, she agreed to give them up.
"I was surprised at how clean the property was for the amount of animals she had," said LaBelle Animal Control Officer Allen Pickles. "It was very clean."
Pickles said the owner had been trying to sell the dogs. Animal shelters from Palm Beach, Broward and even as far as Naples are now helping Hendry County take over the job of finding them homes.
Pickles said he had never seen so many dogs in one place.
"We've got several different breeds from German shepherds to labs to Boston terriers, pugs, poodles, Chihuahuas. Some a week old," he said. "Some years old."
"She's just got way too big of a heart," he continued, "Every animal she has -- and there's 200 plus on the property -- are in very good care, healthy and fat. They all have food, water, shelter. It's just she had way too many, way too quick."
Neighbors agreed there were "too many, too quick."
"You hear them all hours of the day and night, especially when it comes feeding time," said Eugene Wright, who lives nearby.
Wright explained stray pets are already a problem for the area.
"People come out here and dump dogs and cats all the time," he said. "That's how I got my dogs."
He's sympathetic that one woman would try to help but, "one person can't do it all," he remarked.
Palm Beach County Animal Control picked up fifty dogs to take to no-kill shelters in the Palm Beach County area. The rest of the dogs will go to no-kill shelters in Broward County, Lee County and Collier County where they'll be put up for adoption to go to the new homes their owner wasn't able to find for them.
Animal control says the owner won't be facing any charges because she is cooperating with them and the dogs were in relatively good condition. Pickles said she will be allowed to keep some of the older dogs -- but she'll have to make sure they're spayed or neutered.