The cops, prosecutors and pet rescuers who converged on Ileana Arnais and Rubin Dario Arrojos Hialeah townhouse Thursday knew that behind the front door theyd find horribly mistreated animals wallowing in urine and feces.
The affidavit that a judge signed authorizing a search warrant on the peach-colored townhouse, in the 5300 block of West 26th Avenue, described in nauseating detail dozens of sick, injured, starving, flea-ridden dogs and cats with eyes, ears and noses oozing mucous.
But the malodorous mess stunned even seasoned law enforcement officers. State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said a veteran prosecutor from the homicide division told her it was the worst crime scene hed ever seen.
Arnais and Arrojo, both 50, were arrested on 34 felony counts of animal cruelty with intent to injure/kill after a three-month investigation.
Thats just the number of dogs taken from the home between April 7 and May 7. Rescuers took at least 60 more on Thursday, and according to Hialeah police spokesman Carl Zogby, there will be more charges coming.
Rundle said her office asked for $85,000 bail for each suspect, who could face five years in prison for each of the 34 counts.
Rescuers and police found toy breeds like Yorkshire terriers, Maltese, rat terriers, Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus, and some larger dogs, including a 35-pound Mexican hairless.
They also found turtles, tropical fish and birds, squirrel-like marsupials called sugar gliders, rabbits, chickens, a hedgehog and a goat.
By Thursday evening, most of the 60-plus animals including several days-old puppies had been placed with rescue groups or with the Greater Miami Humane Society Adopt-a-Pet, according to a veterinary technician at Sky Lake Animal Hospital in Miami Gardens.
Vet tech Gordon Ivanovski said that none of the animals rescued Thursday had to be euthanized.
The case came to the attention of Hialeah Police on April 17, when a pet rescuer named Cira Leslie reported possible animal abuse at the townhouse, according to the affidavit seeking a search warrant.
Leslie, who operates A Better Life Rescue, which took some of the animals, is also a Miami-Dade police officer. She declined to speak to the newspaper, but commented at the scene to a reporter for Herald news partner WFOR-CBS4, that puppies appeared to have been eaten by starving older dogs.
The affidavit says that a dog groomer named Ana Vivas, a friend of Leslies, befriended Arnais, and spent months coaxing her to give up the 34 dogs in April and May. The rescued animals included a Siberian husky, a bulldog mix, a Dachshund and a Cocker spaniel, all of which were filthy, flea infested and smelled of feces and urine, according to the affidavit.
One Yorkie puppy was blind and another Yorkie was...missing a front paw.
Vivas could not be reached.
Some of those dogs had to be put out of their misery quickly, the affidavit says, including a Maltese named Mickey with deformed legs and paws, spine and head and eyes [that had to drag himself around because he couldnt walk; a Maltese mix named Macho who could not control his bowels, and any food he ate would pass right through him without allowing him to receive proper nutrients to thrive, and a brown American bulldog mix with infected ears and eyes that was barely able to walk.