2 arrested after ‘deplorable’ conditions discovered at Arcadia dog breeder

Published: November 10, 2021 4:13 PM EST
Updated: November 17, 2021 1:39 PM EST

Close to 100 animals, including 58 dogs, were rescued from a Southwest Florida dog breeder and are now getting the care they deserve.

It comes after a raid at a home in DeSoto County revealed the deplorable conditions the dogs were living in.

Now they’re wagging their tails, howling with excitement and can spread out in their cages without laying on feces. Their bowls at Desoto Animal Services are always filled with water.

It’s a drastic difference from Tuesday when they didn’t have access to the essentials to survive.

The dogs were rescued from the Strawberry Farms puppy mill in DeSoto County.

Sgt. Jennifer Bailey with the criminal investigations division at the Desoto County Sheriff’s office said, “the house from outside looked just like a normal house. From the inside. The smell was overwhelming.”

Sgt. Bailey was one of the detectives who executed a search warrant at the “Strawberry Farms” breeding facility. She and First Lieutenant Jose Raya arrived at the puppy mill Tuesday to find 58 dogs, two that were pregnant and one just over a week old.

Investigators seized 82 animals in total.

“All of them had no food water, fresh air,” said Sgt. Bailey.

First Lieutenant Raya said, “going into the puppy room, where they had a fenced area, and there was nothing but feces and urine covering the floor.”

“They looked like huskies, but they weren’t fluffy. Their coats were dirty and dingy,” said Sgt. Bailey.

An out-of-state customer alerted Desoto County deputies to the conditions at the puppy mill. Her dog was delivered five pounds underweight.

Sgt. Bailey said, “they were taking such big bites out of the food bowl like just eating like they haven’t eaten it in quite a while.”

Deputies arrested “Strawberry farms” owner Rose Romano in Virginia. Her husband Robert Polk is in the DeSoto County Jail. They are facing charges of animal neglect.

First Lieutenant Raya said, “these animals cannot talk. So it’s our responsibility to provide the help that they need.

Investigators didn’t just rescue dogs. They rescued mice, cats, a tortoise, snake and lizard from the deplorable conditions.

It will be a few weeks before the dogs can go home with a family.

They need to be checked out as evidence, then examined by a vet to make sure they don’t have any lingering health issues.

DeSoto County Animal Services is asking for donations.

If anyone would like to make donations, they can be sent to:

DeSoto County Animal Control
2048 NE McKay Street
Arcadia, FL 34266

Items needed include:

  • Science Diet dog food
  • Nylabones
  • Kong toys
  • Milk bone treats
  • Clean/new, thick blankets
  • Bleach
  • Liquid laundry detergent