Animal cruelty?

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Three dogs and four horses were taken from a home on Sunset Dr. by the Escambia County Humane Society Tuesday.

A group of animals, including four horses and three dogs, are in a safe location recuperating from what officials said is a severe case of animal cruelty, after an anonymous call to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department led investigators to a home on West Sunset Drive Tuesday afternoon.

Barry Sager, the owner of the animals, told deputies an array of stories explaining the animals’ poor conditions, which included obvious malnourishment, officials said. Sager explained one of the horses had been recently purchased and was “in worse shape than that” at the time. Other animals, including several dogs, were also found underfed in cages behind Sager’s home. Still other dogs were found dead, and in various states of decomposition, while still in a cage or on a leash.

Sager told investigators one of the dogs had been bitten by a snake and a trip to the veterinarian was too expensive. Another of the dogs found already dead Sager denied having ever seen before.

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Renee Jones, director of the Escambia County Humane Society and the county’s animal cruelty investigator, said the animals’ conditions were “very bad.”

Jones said all of the animals would be taken from the home to a safe place.

“We’re taking everything living,” she said. “This is not a situation where animals are safe.”

Jones said in cases like Sager’s, the dogs would be taken to the Humane Society shelter in Brewton, while other arrangements would have to be made for the horses.

Jones said Sager would likely be charged with animal neglect, which is a misdemeanor offense. Meanwhile, she said, a hearing would be held to grant the Humane Society ownership of the animals, at which point they would be eligible for adoption once they are healthy enough.