Woman charged with 8 counts of Animal Cruelty-Cause Cruel Death Pain and Suffering

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Melanie Owen

Ocklawaha, Florida — An Ocklawaha woman was charged with 8 counts of felony Animal Cruelty-Cause Cruel Death Pain and Suffering following an inspection of her property by Marion County Animal Services.

Animal Control Officer Richard Pratt responded to 16750 Southeast 95th Street Road, Ocklawaha, after receiving a tip that Melanie A. Owen, 52, had been neglecting dozens of animals.

After obtaining permission from Owen, Officer Pratt inspected the property.

The officer found 11 pigs — 7 adults and 4 piglets — that were underweight from lack of nutrition. Eight of the pigs were severely emaciated, with all bones and spine prominent. The pigs had very little fat coverage, and the entire skeletal frame was exposed.

In addition to the pigs, officers also found several adult chickens, baby chicks, and a turkey that were not being properly cared for.

According to reports, the feed barrels located on the property were empty. The officer reported that he did find a barrel that contained chicken scratch, but it was filled with water and the feed appeared to be fermenting. The feed was soaked with water and was infested with maggots. Additionally, the animals did not have clean water.

Veterinarian Dr. Martha Zimmerman, Animal Control Manager for MCAS Nathan Dickerson, Compliance Officer Jim Sweet, Coordinator Rick Hunyadi, and Marion County Sheriff’s Deputy Rendall also responded to the home.

When officers notified Owen of their findings, she stated that she was just on her way to purchase some feed.

Owen said that she had purchased five bags of feed within the last two weeks, however, when asked to produce receipts for the previous purchases, she was unable to do so.

This is not the first time Owen has been in trouble with Animal Services.

On January 29, 2014, Animals Services responded to the same address and found a horrifying site.

According to reports, officers discovered severely emaciated pigs that were being eaten alive by vultures. In the January case, officers reported that the vultures were most likely attracted to the property by two pigs that were found dead.

Officers seized animals from Owen’s property at that time.

Owen was closely monitored by Animal Control for six months and the January 2014 case was closed in August of 2014.

A year later, Owen was back to her old habits.

Dr. Zimmerman reported that one of the pigs from this case was so emaciated that it could no longer walk and had to be euthanized. Zimmerman said the pig was suffering.

The remaining animals will be treated and monitored closely.

Owen was released from jail on a $10,000 bond.

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