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Palm Coast Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2019 2 months ago

Eighteen pets removed from Palm Coast house, resident disputes allegations

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Staci Steele, the resident, said that only four of the animals actually belonged to her, while others belonged to family members staying for the Easter holiday.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

The scene depicted in a Palm Coast Animal Control officer’s report is one of squalor and disarray: When officers arrived at 12 Waywood Drive, they reported, the door was open, there were dogs running around outside the house near busy Belle Terre Boulevard, and the interior of the home stank of pet feces and urine.

Animal Control officers removed 18 animals from the house: 10 dogs and eight cats, including a litter of kittens. They’re being held at the Flagler Humane Society at a rate of $15 per pet per day, to be billed to the owner, while the city investigates residents Staci Steele and her adult daughter Mackenzi for animal neglect and abuse.

The city of Palm Coast allows up to four animals per house.

Staci Steele, 47, disputes many of the Animal Control officers’ statements. She said only four of the animals actually belonged to her, and that all of the animals are healthy and uninjured.

Flagler Humane Society Director Amy Carotenuto confirmed that the animals seem healthy; a veterinarian had checked them for injuries and signs of dehydration and malnourishment, and found none. 

“If every animal I’m bringing to you is healthy, that’s what your concern should be; your concern shouldn’t be the condition of my house,” Staci Steele said. She wants her pets back. “It (the house) is so empty, and I keep picturing my dogs in cages. ... I’m sick with worry.” 

An Animal Control officer’s photos, included in the report, show a sparsely decorated home, its floor flecked with pet kibble and apparent feces. The officer writes that there was urine and feces in every room of the house, and that it was more than just a few hours’ worth. The smell, he wrote, was “almost unbearable.” But Steele said the animals must have made the mess while she was gone during the afternoon.

The report said the animals, though fed, had no water, and that there was no air circulation. Steele denied that, saying they had one large water bowl and that they had air conditioning.

She said only four of the pets, all dogs,  were hers, and the others belonged to family members who were over for Easter, and to a visiting friend. An Animal Control officer wrote in the report that Steele had said the same thing when Animal Control visited her at a home on Rae Drive in November, at that time saying the pets were at her home because she had relatives there for Thanksgiving.

“The owner’s stories kept contradicting themselves,” the officer wrote.  Steele denied that.

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