Couple's lawyer wants evidence tossed in Polk's largest animal cruelty case

3:02 PM, Jul 11, 2012   |    comments
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Bartow, Florida -- A Polk County judge is considering dismissing the charges against a Polk City couple charged with 10 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty after more than 260 dogs were found living in deplorable conditions.

In May 2010, Polk County Sheriff's deputies called it the single largest case of animal cruelty of neglected dogs in Polk County history.

"What we found was startling," Polk Sheriff Grady Judd had told reporters in a press conference.

Chuck and Diana O'Malley ran the Mid-Florida Retriever Rescue out of their 3,000-square-foot home.

Their lawyer argues deputies entered the O'Malley property without permission, and therefore the evidence against them should be thrown out.

Prosecutors say deputies went by the book.

The judge has not yet ruled on the argument.

At the time, Judd said they'd received an anonymous call about the O'Malleys, and in half an hour deputies were at the home.

"Deputies entered the home. They were surrounded by dozens of dogs, some attacked and two deputies were bit," says Judd.

The Sheriff says at the time the stench was so bad, deputies had to wear gas masks.

"The house wasn't fit for human or dog. Dogs were living on concrete floors, there was feces everywhere," said Judd.

Pictures taken by deputies showed furniture ripped apart and animals living in cages or loose in filth, but now those images may not be admissible depending upon the judge's ruling.

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