The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office is continuing an investigation at Golden Kennel, 9203 Weatherly Road, after a complaint was made to the department by someone who had dealings with the kennel.
Golden Kennel owner Jian Karlos Ortiz Mendez bonded out of jail March 2, the same day several agencies raided the facility. His bond was set for $23,000 and Mendez was charged with 11 counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one misdemeanor count of animal neglect.
Sgt. Matt Lillibridge said the owner and his girlfriend were the sole individuals on site at the time of the raid performed by officers of HCSO, Hernando, Pasco and Hillsborough County Animal Services, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the University of Florida.
Dogs owned by various people were given back, but a majority of the 138 dogs was left in the care of Golden Kennel staff at the time of the arrest. Lillibridge said the kennel was not considered a puppy mill. At the time of the raid, eight puppies were seized and sent to local veterinarians for treatment after showing symptoms of canine parvovirus.
“We limited our access to the kennel, which would have been the veterinarian, the doctor, the lead deputy and lead animal officer,” Lillibridge said. “They wore protective clothing so we could properly dispose of that so we’re not removing any contamination from the facility and bringing it outside. Anytime we have parvo outbreak or something of that nature, it’s extremely contagious.”
Canine parvovirus is an extremely transmittable virus that attacks dogs’ gastrointestinal tracks. Unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than 4 months old are at a higher risk to catch the virus.
Animal Enforcement Officer Mandy Rowe had also found 11 dead puppies improperly disposed of in garbage cans at the kennel during the raid.
A judge had ordered a 60-day stay, which gives Mendez time to improve the kennel’s conditions. Animal Enforcement can drop by for a visit at any time, Lillibridge said.