A man was arrested for 22 counts of cruelty to animals and one count of obstruction of justice at an unlicensed animal rescue operation housing 33 dogs in Okeechobee County.
Deputies visited the property at 19461 NW 288th Street with Animal Control Supervisor Amy Fisher to investigate.
Fisher was tipped off by a concerned citizen.
Brian Peffer allowed the deputy and Fisher to look at the animals on his property.
During their investigation, Peffer admitted to having 17 dogs on the property.
He showed investigators 14 dogs fenced in a 100x80-foot area. A few of those dogs had minor injuries, but investigators did not locate any in distress.
Three other dogs found in a small 5x5-foot style utility shed raised suspicions.
According to the Okeechobee County Sheriff's Office (OCSO), the heat index inside that area measured 85 degrees and the heat index outside was rising to 93 degrees. No food or water source was found, nor were the dogs able to get out of the trailer to urinate or defecate as the floor was thick and saturated with feces and urine.
According to OCSO Peffer stated that was all of the animals he had on the property and became nervous when dogs were heard barking in another part of the property.
Investigators already knew about an additional 20x6-foot office-style building located further back on the property.
Investigators questioned Peffer about the barking dogs and at first he denied having any animals in the building. However, he reluctantly took investigators to the building where they located 19 more dogs, "living in complete squalor without leaving the structure."
According to OCSO the smell of urine and feces was "extraordinarily pungent" and the floor was thick with feces and urine. Investigators noted that maggots were present.
Peffer told investigators he lied to them for fear of being arrested and losing his dogs.
A total of 33 dogs and 2 chickens were turned over to Okeechobee Animal Control by Peffer.