Hernando County deputies on Tuesday discovered 50 animals that they said were living in filth in a Spring Hill home.
Deputies found the 47 dogs and three cats in crates or running loose in the home at 12287 Landfair St., according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Some of the dogs were in crates that were too small, deputies said. Feces and urine hadn’t been cleaned in months. The packed feces was 2 inches thick in some areas.
Naoma Britten, who lives at the address, told deputies she runs a nonprofit rescue, according to the Sheriff’s Office. A search of state records found her associated with The Cuddly Pooch Rescue, but Hernando County Animal Services told the Sheriff's Office she is "definitely not affiliated with their (animal services) facility."
Britten immediately signed over ownership of 21 dogs to Hernando County Animal Services. She must find homes for the other 26 dogs and three cats before June 25.
Deputies were first called to the home because of complaints of constant barking. They arrived about 1 p.m. Tuesday and noticed the smell of feces and urine while approaching, deputies said.
As they walked through the home to check on the animals, deputies said, Britten showed them a bedroom where seven dogs ran loose.
Clothes and other belongings were soiled on the ground, deputies said. She slept on a bed in the room surrounded by baby gates. There was reportedly only one path to get through the home that was so small only one person could fit through at a time.
Neighbors tell ABC Action News the house has been a problem for a years.
"It sounds like a kennel. The dogs cry and howl," Elvie Malatesta said. "To say she's rescuing animals, I don't believe that. To me, that's abuse."
"It looks like the animals are screaming for help," said another neighbor Alina Mecinski. "I've never seen something like that in all of my life."
Deputies expect to cite Britten once veterinarian examinations are complete. So far, no charges have been filed.
"If you can't care for your animal properly, you need to get it to a place that can care for it properly," said Denise Moloney, a Hernando County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman. "Ask for help."