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Napier petitioned to forfeit custody of over 300 animals | News

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Napier petitioned to forfeit custody of over 300 animals

Bradenton, Florida- The Manatee County's Sheriff's Office has filed a petition with the Clerk of Courts to have Alan Napier forfeit custody of more than 300 of his animals. 

Deputies issued a search warrant last week of Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary for poor living conditions. A judge will decide of Napier is fit to continue caring for the animals.

STORY: Manatee animal sanctuary investigation continues
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Meanwhile in a Ten News investigation, Ten News has learned Manatee County Animals Services (MCAS) started transferring animals to Napier's Log Cabin Horse and Animal Sanctuary in 2010 several months after Hillsborough County Animal Services (HCAS) stopped sending animals to Napier's for poor conditions.

A letter dated January, 2010 from Manatee County Animal Services to Alan Napier states the rescue "appeared to be in good health and well cared for."

Yet six months earlier on June 9, 2009, Hillsborough County Animal Services  ended its relationship with Napier's after in inspector found "inadequate and unsanitary conditions." HCAS notified MCAS of the inspection.

The inspector found a long list of problems: old feces on the ground, a strong odor of feces and urine, excessive flies around animals and food bowls, dogs in cages standing on wire floors, poor drinking water, numerous animals with skin condition and no vet records.

The inspector told Napier that day "he would no longer be getting animals from HCAS" and reaffirmed that decision in their final report written in October. HCAS forwarded its report to MCAS. Transfer records from MCAS shows it started sending Napier animals in April of 2010.

Marilyn Weaver, with the League for Humane Voters says she and others complained to Manatee County Animal Services for several years. Weaver says, "How did Manatee County not see that after all the complaints?"

Through a public records request, 10 News acquired emails dating back to 2008 to MCAS. They show the facility received complaints about the living conditions at Napier's and how they conducted business.

In a letter to MCAS dated September 8, 2009- one day prior to Hillsborough's inspection- Napier defended their business practices to MCAS and Commissioner Carol Whitmore calling the allegations "false and unfounded."

In a letter to Napier the next day, Commissioner Carol Whitmore stated, "I feel as long as NO animals are abused, I will work with you." That day, a Hillsborough County Animal Services inspector found the conditions at Napier's "inadequate and unsanitary."

Inspection reports from Manatee County Animal Services shows MCAS inspectors made three stops at Napier's in 2009 and on all three visits, they were unable to make contact with Napier.

Records show the visit on Mar. 18, 2009 was sparked by a complaint made by a Manatee Sheriff's Deputy, followed by a second visit on Mar. 28. On both visits the gate was locked. 

A third and final inspection visit that year came on Dec. 1, following a call of "possible neglect of dogs and horses." Once again, inspectors found the gate locked and no one at Napier's Sanctuary.  

In December 2009, Napier's sent a letter to Hillsborough saying he had corrected the problems or "oversights" and wrote, "we are trying to do the best we can."

Napier asked HCAS to reconsider sending animals to him again. Notes made by someone with HCAS marked the request using a green crayon with "LOL" or "laugh out loud."

10 News tried getting a response from county officials. Manatee County Animal Services would not comment. 

When we asked Commissioner Whitmore about the Hillsborough inspection in 2009, she said she did not know about it.

Manatee County's Associate County Administrator, Karen Windon, also said she had no prior knowledge of the issue. 

10 News asked her why Manatee would send animals to Napier's months after Hillsborough found Napier's "inadequate and unsanitary." 

"It's the first I heard of it," said Windon.

Unlike Hillsborough, MCAS' partner agreement with rescue groups does not call for the right to do inspections when needed. MCAS says that is just one of the policies county officials will look at changing when transferring animals to rescue facilities.

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