Urgent Response Leads to Legal Consequences
In a critical and deeply unsettling animal rescue operation, Alaqua Animal Refuge, led by founder Laurie Hood, intervened in a life-threatening situation involving dozens of animals. The effort was coordinated in partnership with Deputy Sheriff Greg Barton of Holmes County Sheriff’s Office, Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida, and Washington County Animal Control.
Owner Faces Criminal Charges The owner of these distressed animals was arrested and is currently facing four 3rd degree felony charges and 30 1st degree misdemeanors. All animals were legally transferred to Alaqua Animal Refuge for immediate treatment and future adoption.
Horrific Conditions Demand Immediate Action Amidst a heatwave, with heat index soaring above 110 degrees, the team discovered animals trapped in a trailer without electricity, water, or adequate food. The conditions were beyond deplorable—filled with trash, debris, and life-threatening holes in the flooring.
No Animal Left Behind “I originally planned to assess the situation and try to find placement for these animals, as we are always at full capacity,” said Laurie Hood, Alaqua Founder. “However, once I witnessed the dire conditions, leaving any animal behind was not an option.”
A Grim Race Against Time The situation was so extreme that some animals were found deceased. Many of the remaining dogs, puppies, and exotic birds were skittish, many requiring tranquilization for safe removal. A miniature horse that was struggling to live when found, despite around-the-clock care, had to be humanely euthanized.
Ongoing Care for Surviving Animals Alaqua is now caring for a total of 32 animals removed from this horrendous environment. While the refuge operates at full capacity, it continues to prioritize emergency rescues, especially when local counties lack the necessary resources.
How to Support Alaqua relies exclusively on donations and receives no state or federal funding. Your support is crucial. To make a donation, please visit www.alaqua.org
Acknowledgments A heartfelt thank you to Deputy Sheriff Greg Barton—Holmes County is fortunate to have him on their team. Kudos also go to Walton County Sheriff’s Office, Florida and Washington County Animal Control for their rapid response. Finally, we appreciate the Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and the State Attorney’s office for their serious handling of this grim case.
About Alaqua Animal Refuge
Alaqua Animal Refuge is a no-kill animal shelter and sanctuary, located in the panhandle of Florida. As the Southeast’s premier 501(c)3 refuge, Alaqua believes that every abused, neglected and homeless animal deserves a second chance. Committed to providing protection, shelter, and care to animals in need, this private, non-profit Refuge also offers an adoption center, veterinary clinic, educational outreach, and community programs that extend far beyond their geographic location. Since its inception in 2007, Alaqua, led by Founder Laurie Hood, has become a recognized leader in animal rescue, welfare, cruelty prevention, and advocacy. Alaqua is currently in the midst of a capital campaign to complete the building of their one-of-a-kind facility—the first in the United States—on 100 acres. The new facility and sanctuary will allow Alaqua to continue to do the important work of animal rescue and rehabilitation, as well as be an educational and training center for animal welfare advocates as a place that will inspire, empower, and educate others to make change in our society and recreate the model worldwide.
To learn more, visit www.alaqua.org
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