Woman arrested after several dogs found dead, said to be abandoned in home before Hurricane Irma

WEEKI WACHEE, Fla. — A Weeki Wachee woman has been arrested after several dogs were found dead in a Hernando County home that neighbors say was no one has lived in since Hurricane Irma.

ABC Action News was the first to report about the dead dogs last week.

Neighbors are furious now knowing they were living next to a home where dogs were suffering inside. 

"Our houses are far enough apart where we can’t hear inside the home," said neighbor Patt Pierce. 

According to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office, a neighbor called 911 after a group of construction workers, who were working in the area, noticed what appeared to be a dead dog inside a home on Robina Road in Weeki Wachee.

When deputies looked into the home, they say they saw a dead dog lying on the living room floor.

Related: Several dogs found dead, believed to be abandoned in home before Hurricane Irma

Deputies then called the homeowner, Lauren Kopp, 35, who stated she was renting the house to a friend and did not have keys to get into the house. She denied ownership of the deceased dog.

Deputies eventually made entry into the garage through an unlocked side door, where they noticed that the garage floor was covered in feces.

Deputies then entered the laundry room area between the garage and main house where they found two additional deceased dogs. Upon finding the additional deceased dogs, deputies exited the garage.

Kopp was requested by deputies to respond to the residence.

When Kopp arrived, deputies say she continued to deny ownership of the deceased dogs. Kopp told deputies she had given all her dogs to a shelter in Citrus County prior to moving.

Deputies say that attempts to contact the renter were unsuccessful. 

While Kopp said she regularly checks the mail at the residence, she could not recall the last time she saw the renter at the residence.

While Kopp was speaking to deputies, several neighbors approached telling deputies the deceased dogs in question did, in fact, belong to Kopp. Neighbors told deputies that no one had been staying at the house since Kopp left following Hurricane Irma in September.

"They did not die easy. Imagine being in that home and starving to dead and those animals one by one dropping, she needs to go to jail." said neighbor Chris Kirby.

Deputies returned to the residence on March 7, at which time Kopp was able to unlock the home. 

In addition to the three deceased dogs located on March 6, deputies found the remains of a fourth dog. There was feces and urine located throughout the house with no access to food or water for the dogs. All four dogs were found to be in advanced stages of decomposition.

On March 9, investigators contacted Kopp’s former boyfriend of nine years. He indicated Kopp owned four dogs prior to the end of their relationship in 2015. He was able to name and describe all four dogs in detail. Using photographs provided by deputies, Kopp's former boyfriend was able to positively identify three of the deceased dogs as belonging to Kopp.

Kopp was arrested on Saturday and charged with four counts of felony animal cruelty. Her bond was set at $8,000.

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