Suspect accused of having at least 15 living but sick and dead cats in unfit for habitation Lake County home but no charges of animal abuse.
Clermont, Lake County, Florida, USA: Mark Cameron has been accused of keeping a child (his son?) in a home which was unfit for habitation by human or cat based on the description. There were also many cats (fifteen have been removed) living in the house. The child was left with Cameron’s bedridden stepfather.
There were sick cats and at least one dead cat with more ‘dead cats in the drawers’. Some cats hid in wall spaces. The floor was covered in cat faces. There was no litter tray and neither was there a working bath, shower, refrigerator or oven.
The home was infested with flies, maggots and cockroaches. The child slept on a dirty mattress covered with faces, urine and fleas, with the stepfather. The child tried to clean up but was beaten.
The picture painted is clear: it is a home fit for neither human nor domestic cat habitation. I presume the cats have been taken to a rescue center. The man’s been charged with child abuse. The reports don’t state that Cameron is the child’s father but I’ll presume that he is. As mentioned he has been charged with a crime.
But there is no mention of any crime under Florida animal welfare laws. On the description, and based on my reading of many stories of cat hoarding and abuse, there seems to be a prima facie case (on the face of it) for at least an animal abuse misdemeanour charge.
Relevant Florida animal welfare law applicable in this instance
“…the words “torture,” “torment,” and “cruelty” shall be held to include every act, omission, or neglect whereby unnecessary or unjustifiable pain or suffering is caused…A person who unnecessarily overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates, or kills any animal, or causes the same to be done, or carries in or upon any vehicle, or otherwise, any animal in a cruel or inhumane manner, commits animal cruelty, a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. (828.12 Cruelty to animals and 828.02 Definitions)
Note: It is not clear who owned or owns the cats or the home. However, it is clear from the description that the cats are and were abused through neglect. Chronic animal neglect is as bad as positive and deliberate abuse. Someone – Cameron or stepfather – should be charged.