Hundreds of Animals in Home Lead to Elder and Animal Neglect Charges in Horrifying Frostproof Case
Wellness Check to Discovers Animal Abuse, Unhealthy Conditions
Last updated 12/22/2023 at 2:40pm
A horrifying discovery by a sheriff's deputy led to the arrest of a Frostproof woman Thursday morning on charges of felony animal cruelty, animal neglect, and elder neglect. A 75-year old woman was removed from the Fazzini Drive mobile home after air monitors proved a hazardous level of ammonia in the home due to animal urine, as well as feces on the floors and walls.
Lisa Lacharite, 48, of Frostproof was booked into the Polk County Jail charged with five counts of animal cruelty, 304 counts of animal neglect, and one count of elder neglect. Deputies removed 142 cats, three dogs, and 163 ducks, chickens, and geese, along with a solitary peacock, from the property.
A deputy had arrived at the property to conduct a welfare check after reports of a possible "hoarder situation" at the residence involving cats. Upon his arrival, the deputy was met by Lacharite, who told him that she was the caregiver for her mother, who shared the home with her.
Lacharite told the deputy she "rescues cats and cares for numerous chickens and ducks," according to the police report.
The deputy noticed stacks of wire cages on the porch allegedly filled with sickly and malnourished fowl, and an overwhelming odor of ammonia coming from the residence.
When he entered, he observed some 50 cats "running around the residence, climbing on furniture, and sitting on the kitchen counters," according to a statement from the Polk Sheriff's Office. Deputies later discovered about 50 more cats confined to a rear bedroom of the home, which also contained numerous litter boxes that were described as "filled with feces and urine."
The conditions led the deputy to call for assistance, which eventually included Polk County Animal Control, the Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit, Agricultural Crimes, Crime Scene, and the sheriff's Southeast District patrol. Investigators were forced to wear respirators while at the scene.
A Polk County Fire Rescue ammonia reader collected air samples indicating ammonia concentrations between 70 and 100 parts per million inside the home. Levels in excess of 50 parts per million are considered hazardous to health.
Ms. Lacharite's mother was removed from the residence to prevent further exposure to the air.
A middle bedroom reportedly held a dog and more chickens and ducks "in cages and bins."
All the animals removed from the residence were transported to Animal Control to be evaluated by veterinarians. According to the police report, "Polk County Animal Control will work with the general public, the SPCA, and animal rescue organizations to find forever homes for animals."
Polk County Animal Control is asking the public who are interested in adopting the cats or dogs to visit Animal Control at 7115 De Castro Road in Winter Haven, or email [email protected] and provide your name, address, email, and telephone number and how you would like to help.