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Severe Animal Neglect and Hoarding in Lakeland: Disturbing Discovery by Polk County Sheriff's Office

By Ciara Perez, News Reporter | iSkyCreations - News & Media (ISC)

Published April 24th, 2024


Lakeland, FL – The Polk County Sheriff's Office made a distressing discovery in a Lakeland home on Wednesday, April 17, 2024, following a complaint about animal neglect and hoarding. Responding to the scene at 4328 Hedge Drive North, investigators from the Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit were confronted with a severe case involving dozens of cats and a dog living in harmful conditions.


Upon arrival, detectives were hit by a strong ammonia smell emanating from the residence, prompting the use of respirator masks to enter the home due to toxic levels of ammonia and hydrides. Inside, they found 20-25 cats with visible signs of respiratory distress and a poodle mix dog in poor health, unable to walk properly due to overgrown toenails and suffering from a severe skin condition.


A total of 27 live cats and the dog were seized from the property, which was littered with overflowing litter boxes and covered in fleas. Disturbingly, five deceased cats were discovered under a bed in a room that was shut off from food and water, leading to their starvation.


The homeowner, 66-year-old Catherine Briley, was arrested and faces numerous charges, including 28 counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, five counts of felony animal cruelty, and additional charges related to the conditions of the property. The backyard was found cluttered with junk and debris, creating a breeding ground for disease-carrying insects.


“This is the third case since December where we have found a woman who is hoarding animals to the point where they are being neglected and suffering from illnesses. The home, inside and out, is also what I would call unlivable. This particular suspect is no stranger to the criminal justice system, having been arrested in the past for various crimes. It is our hope these animals will be rehabilitated and able to be adopted out to loving homes, and that this suspect is no longer allowed to own animals.” – Grady Judd, Sheriff

The seized animals are currently receiving care at Polk County Animal Control, where they are being evaluated and treated for various health issues. The community hopes for a better future for these animals, as they recover and potentially find new homes away from the conditions they were subjected to.

Stay with us for further updates on this developing story.


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