An Oldsmar couple is facing child abuse and animal cruelty charges following their arrest Sunday by Pinellas County Sheriff's deputies.
Jeffrey O'Neil, 28, and Jennifer Kovacs, 26, were booked into the Pinellas County Jail on felony charges. They are being held without bond pending their first appearance before a judge.
Deputies seized nearly 300 animals of all shapes, sizes and types from the suspect's residence at 206 Lee St.
According to a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office report deputies were dispatched to the home just after 6 a.m. in response to a missing child call. O'Neil and Kovacs called 9-1-1 after they were unable to locate a 16-month-old female child left in their care.
The couple thought the child had crawled out of its crib and exited through the front door. While at the scene deputies discovered a note left by a relative informing the suspects they had taken the baby.
The note states the child was crying when the relative arrived. They attempted to wake up O'Neil but were unable to do so.
Investigators say the child is in good condition.
The animals on the other hand, not so much.
"There are numerous animals in the home living in filthy conditions," explained Jill Purl, an officer with Tampa Bay''s SPCA. "We have snakes, rabbits, hedgehogs, rats…..numerous animals, dogs too."
When deputies arrived at the home O'Neil and Kovacs were under the influence of alcohol.
Purl described the scene as a case of animal hoarding.
Investigators say the animals were being bred and sold without the proper licensing required for such a business. Officials with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were also dispatched to the scene to collect some of the more exotic creatures.
Among the animals seized were seven Burmese pythons, seven monitor lizards, over 100 bearded lizards, two deceased scorpion spiders, squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils.
Some of the animals were kept outside and others were found in cages inside the home. Approximately 90 cages were removed from the home by SPCA officers.
Additional charges may be filed as the investigation continues.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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