HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. -- An animal cruelty investigation is underway after deputies found several dogs locked inside a self-storage unit in Hernando County Tuesday morning.
An anonymous caller told dispatchers in Hernando County that animals, possibly dogs, were locked inside a storage unit in the 1000 block of Hale Avenue in Brooksville. Upon arrival, deputies heard dogs barking behind a door that was secured by a large padlock.
Deputies on scene had to use a bolt cutter to open the door. Once the door was opened, deputies found seven dogs inside the unit. One dog was tethered to a short leash with a bowl of water nearby.
There were two chihuahuas locked inside a metal crate on top of another metal crate. The chihuahuas did not have access to food or water.
In the other crate, deputies found a female dog and three small puppies -- all without access to food or water.
Deputies said there were no ventilation in the storage unit.
"I mean no one should have a dog if they’re going to treat them like that," said neighbor Sandy Smiley. "We want to keep animals safe, people safe, kids safe, there’s a lot of people in this neighborhood who really care."
All seven dogs were taken to the Hernando County Animal Services to be evaluated by a veterinarian.
The vet said all of the dogs are in "fairly decent condition." The vet does not believe the dogs were abandoned in the storage unit for an extended period of time based on their current health conditions.
The owner of the storage facility tells ABC Action News, there are no surveillance cameras on the property. That owner is not facing any charges and has been cooperative with the investigation.
The owner of the facility confirmed the unit where the dogs were located was supposed to be vacant and was not currently under contract with anyone.
Deputies are searching for the owner of the dogs. Anyone with information on the owner is asked to call 352-754-6830.