97 Dogs, 6 Horses Seized Following Animal Cruelty Arrest - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

97 Dogs, 6 Horses Seized Following Animal Cruelty Arrest

Posted: Updated:

Animal rescuers call it one of the worst animal hoarding cases they've ever seen; 97 dogs in one double wide trailer and, outside, 6 malnourished horses.

"It's just if you imagine 97 children in a double wide trailer, unsupervised with no one to care for them, how neglected they would be," said Alaqua Animal Refuge Veterinarian, Dr. Abby Williams.

This was the daily life for those dogs on the property of Nancy Payne.

Payne was arrested Saturday on animal cruelty charges when a horse in her care was found without an eye and nerve endings exposed.

Payne was being monitored by the Walton County Sheriff's Office for potential animal cruelty since April.

That horse's condition gave leverage for arrest.

When investigators arrived, they found 5 other horses badly in need of care and then a shocking discovery of animal hoarding.

"These animals were frightened, they were in survival mode, filthy, flea infested, lots of wounds," said Williams.

Just a few days later, those dogs and horses have been bathed, groomed, medically treated and fed by dedicated volunteers at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Freeport.

But, despite what they feel is cruelty in its most apparent form, hoarding isn't in the language of Florida's animal cruelty laws, according to refuge vet, Dr. Abby Williams.

"It may be that our wording doesn't quite fit the situation, but it's become more and more of a problem. I do believe that the hoarding needs to be addressed as a severe form of cruelty that we're seeing," said Williams.

Now, Alaqua owner, Laurie Hood, says they are working on a shoe string to properly give the kind of care necessary by so many hurting animals.

"We almost did a crisis management crash course with every body that came out and we assigned them jobs. We just started to work.  And we worked through the night some nights," said Hood.

Hood is hoping the law stays on their side; a side she feels is the only way these animals can find the home they deserve.

Payne's arrest follows an investigation dating back to April of this year.

More charges are expected in the coming days. Stay tuned to News 13 for the latest.