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Polk County Florida Sheriff's Office Unearths Shocking Animal Neglect Case



By Ciara Perez, News Reporter | iSkyCreations - News & Media (ISC News)Published Dec 30th, 2023


Polk County, FL – In a startling discovery, the Polk County Sheriff's Office has uncovered a severe case of animal neglect and hoarding in a residence located on Pope Lane, off Bethlehem Road in southwest Polk County. The case came to light during a welfare check on Thursday, December 28, 2023, when deputies, responding to concerns about an elderly woman, encountered appalling conditions within the home.


Upon arrival, deputies were met with a pungent odor of ammonia emanating from the residence. The interior of the home presented a harrowing scene – floors littered with feces and over 30 cats roaming amidst squalor. This alarming situation prompted the involvement of the PCSO Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit.


The primary suspect in the case, 57-year-old Sharon Cochran, was found living in conditions that were described as barely breathable. The house was in a state of extreme neglect, with feces-covered floors, piles of trash, and an air filled with harmful ammonia levels. Polk County Fire Rescue reported an ammonia reading of 15 ppm inside the residence, a stark contrast to the normal 0 ppm in breathing air.


Investigators removed 35 cats and one dog from the premises, all found living in dire conditions, with no litter boxes and amidst roaches infesting every room. The lack of a working air conditioning system further exacerbated the poor air quality inside the home.


Cochran faces 36 counts of animal neglect (M1), a reflection of the dire state in which the animals were found. In a saddening twist, Cochran was also the sole caregiver for an 82-year-old woman with limited mobility, leading to an additional charge of neglect of an elderly person (F3). The elderly victim has since been relocated to family members.


This case underscores the tragic consequences of animal hoarding and neglect, highlighting the importance of community vigilance and the swift response of authorities in safeguarding the welfare of both humans and animals.

This is the second case in a week where we have found a woman who, thinking she is helping, ended up hoarding animals. The victim is now in the care of other family members, and the animals are being examined by our Animal Control veterinary staff. It is our hope they will be rehabilitated and able to be adopted out to loving homes.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

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