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Walton County rescuers seize over a hundred animals
WALTON COUNTY -- Rescuers who seized more than a hundred animals from a Walton county home say they were malnourished, and living in filth. Nancy Payne of Freeport faces one count of felony animal cruelty, with more charges pending.
The animals were taken from her home on JW Hollington Road.
Reporter Laura Hussey says, "This dog is a new mom, but when she was brought here to Alaqua Animal Refuge, the mats in her fur were so thick, so encrusted with feces, she not only couldn't walk, she couldn't nurse her puppies"
Investigators took photos as ninety-seven dogs were seized from Nancy Payne's home. But the director of Alaqua Animal Refuge says pictures can't capture what those moments felt like.
Laurie Hood says, "There was one dog in particular that we seized that night, and it was obviously in labor and it was determined that the dog had been in labor for days and not noticed. So the puppies had actually died inside of her, and killed her as a result"
The dogs have been treated for conditions of neglect like flea infestation and skin conditions. Most of them are small breeds, many are pregnant. Some came in with the highly contagious disease parvo and have already died.
Pat Gardner says, "I don't think it has really hit her yet. And when it does, it's going to crush her"
Pat Gardner is Nancy Payne's neighbor and good friend. She can't believe the accusations.
Gardner says, "She adores animals. Animals are her life"
The investigation started in April, over the welfare of Payne's horses. This one was confiscated and taken to Alaqua last week. A deputy says it suffered from a painful, severe eye injury for months.....and wasn't taken to a vet.
Pat Gardner says, "She was out there every morning, afternoon and night doctoring that eye because she can't afford a vet bill"
Gardner insists her friend would not mistreat horses or dogs.
Laurie Hood says her role is not to judge, but she believes what was in front of her eyes.
Hood says "The conditions of the house were unacceptable for any living being, human or animal, to be inside of"
Laura Hussey says "Alaqua volunteers say in the last few days, these animals have literally come back to life. But whether they stay here or go back where they came from has yet to be decided by a judge."