Manatee County, Florida- After Manatee County Sheriff's deputies found a shallow grave with the remains of eight dogs, they suspect there could be more animals buried in the yard at Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animals Sanctuary off State Road 64.
STORY: Manatee animal sanctuary investigation continues
A multi-agency raid at Napier's Wednesday ended in the rescue of more than 300 animals- mostly dogs, but also cats, horses and farm animals. County records showed the sanctuary is owned by Sheree and Alan Napier.
Napier's and Manatee County Animal Services
Documents obtained by 10 News through a public records request show Manatee County Animal Services transferred 286 animals to Napier's between 2010 and 2013, receiving 92 of those animals last year. Manatee County Animal Services, a no-kill shelter, has transferred animals to 53 shelters since 2007, and Napier's is sixth on the list of shelters receiving the most animals.
The records also show Animal Services receiving nearly a dozen complaints since 2010, ranging from malnourished kittens, an emaciated dog, calls asking to verify the animals' health certificates and calls to check on the health and living conditions of the animals.
The reports show among the problems, inspectors found infestation of German roaches, cages in flood prone areas and crowded cages- which resulted in Animal Services issuing a "proper shelter" notice in September 2011.
PHOTOS: The rescue
According to inspectors, most visits showed no "serious" issues and "no Animal Services issues."
The reports show on several occasions Animal Services Officers arrived to the sanctuary on State Road 64 for an inspection, and found the gates locked, and no one at the facility.
In June, a letter from the Manatee County Commissioners' office called for Manatee Animal Services inspectors to check the conditions at Napier's. The inspector found "no animal issues" to report.
Following an inspection in July, an Animal Services inspector reported the property was "unkept and overgrown" and advised the owners Sheree and Alan Napier to provide "proper shelter" and"sanitary conditions" fort he animals.
The inspector wrote, "At this time conditions are average for this type of rescue facility" and "did not observe any sick or injured animals while on the property."
By August, inspectors found the Napiers making some improvements- ranging from a reduction in overgrowth, fewer roaches, new cat boxes, cages placed in higher and drier areas, a new chain link kennel with cement floor and improvements to a dog shelter.
According to Adron Walker, the Napier's attorney,the couple asked Animal Services in November to temporarily stop sending animals while they made improvements. Records provided to 10 News show the last animal transferred to Napier's was on November 23.
Manatee Humane Society On Napier's
10 News reached out the Humane Society of Manatee County to discuss the situation at the sanctuary.
"So glad they are out of there," said the Humane Society's Executive Director Amy Van Dell.
The agency has taken in 35 dogs from the raid at Napier's Sanctuary. Van Dell remembers Alan Napier bringing some of his animals to her shelter for services over the last three years.
"He was not bringing us healthy animals," said Van Dell, estimating about 37 animals- mostly dogs- being brought in to be spayed and neutered. Van Dell said Napier used a grant provided by Manatee County Animal Services for its animals.
"Sometimes these animals were not able to have surgery. They were either sick, or underweight. I'd tell him they're not healthy enough to have surgery at this time."
Van Dell said Napier continued to bring in unhealthy dogs, and that put her animals at risk, so in November, she told him she would not see any more of his animals.
SEE ALSO: Manatee commissioner reacts to sanctuary raid
Napier's Animals Get A Second Chance
"Smile look how pretty I'm going to look," said Merrill Koven a volunteer at Nate's Honor Animal Rescue in Lakewood Ranch as she gave a Shiatsu-mix breed a bath. She said the dog's legs are colored yellow from standing in urine.
"Even though they can't speak, they know they've been saved. I see it in their eyes," Koven added as she wrapped the wet dog in a towel.
Nate's Honor Animal Rescue has taken in 62 dogs and 13 cats from Napier's Sanctuary. Volunteers are giving each one a makeover and socializing them with other animals and people.
"It's tragic. It's tragic, but they will get good homes; they're sweet dogs," said groomer Lisa Smith as she finished trimming a black and white terrier mixed dog.
Honor has double the capacity of the Manatee Humane Society. Honor officials say the animals are not ready for adoption yet, but some can be fostered.
Animal Rescue and Adoption Agencies say the best way to help is to adopt the animals the centers already have, so they can offer more room for the rescued animals as they recover.
While food and towels are helpful, rescue workers say cash donations are most helpful.
Besides contacting the animal rescue centers directly, one can make donations by calling the Manatee County Sheriff's Office at 941-747-3011 Extension #1151.
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