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Horrific Conditions At Frostproof Home Involving 142 Cats & 164 Fowl

Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigates animal neglect hoarder case in Frostproof; 142 cats, 3 dogs, and 164 fowl (ducks, chickens, geese, and a peacock) seized from the property.

On Thursday morning, December 21, 2023, a Polk County deputy sheriff responded to a home on Fazzini Drive, Frostproof to complete a welfare check on a 75 year old woman who was reported to be living there, and that there was a possible “hoarder situation” involving cats at the house. Upon his arrival, the deputy was met by 48-year-old Lisa Lacharite in the front yard of the residence.

The deputy informed Ms. Lacharite that he was there to conduct a wellbeing check on the older woman (Ms. Lacharite’s mother). She told the deputy that she was her mother’s caregiver and that her mother had health issues. Ms. Lacharite asked the deputy to wait outside while she went inside to get her. While waiting, the deputy noticed strong ammonia smells outside the residence. After approximately 15 minutes, Ms. Lacharite exited the residence and informed the deputy he could now enter the home and check on her mother’s wellbeing.

Lisa Lacharite

As the deputy entered the enclosed front porch, he observed numerous wire cages that contained approximately 75 chickens, peacocks, and ducks. Some of these animals appeared to be malnourished and sick. When Deputy Mills entered the residence, he noticed an overwhelming ammonia odor and observed approximately 50 cats running around the residence, climbing on furniture, and sitting on the kitchen counters. He also observed dried feces on the floors and walls. Ms. Lacharite told the deputy she rescues cats and cares for numerous chickens and ducks.

When the deputy made contact with the mother, she advised she was okay but the deputy noticed she had glassy eyes and was not easily able to move. After observing the living conditions inside the home, more PCSO staff responded to investigate. Members of Polk County Animal Control, the Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit, Agricultural Crimes, Crime Scene, and Southeast District patrol responded.

Polk County Fire Rescue responded with an ammonia reader. PCFR collected an air samples inside the residence; the samples read between 70 and 100 parts per million ammonia. PCFR personnel advised anything over 50 parts per million was hazardous to health. Ms. Lacharite’s mother was removed from the residence to prevent further exposure to the air.

Investigating deputies found the following:

multiple chickens, ducks, geese, and a peacock in wire kennels that were stacked 2 and 3 rows high on the front porch of the residence

dirty water in containers in the pens

all of the pens contained large amounts of feces on the bottom of the wire cages

it appeared the cages had not been cleaned for an extended period of time

inadequate clean exchange of air on the porch; inside the home there was a strong odor of ammonia, which immediately caused burning and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat

cats running loose in the kitchen, living room, and utility room area

cats were observed lying on the kitchen counters, stove, and inside cabinets

a litter box filled with urine and feces inside the pantry in the kitchen

3 cats in kennels, two of which were nursing kittens

two dogs inside kennels in the living room

feces on the floor throughout the residence, and feces piled up in every litter box

it appeared the litter boxes had not been changed for an extended amount of time

there were approximately 10 litter boxes lined down the hallway, all of which were filled with urine and feces

approximately 50 more cats were located inside the back room of the residence

inside the middle bedroom, deputies found another dog and more chickens and ducks in cages and bins

four cats were observed in another smaller bedroom, which also contained a litter box filled with urine and feces

additional cat litter boxes were observed inside the back room, all of which were filled with urine and feces.

Animal Feces

Deputies and staff had to wear respirator masks to investigate the conditions of the home. Five cats were found to have severe eye/nasal discharge and respiratory issues, which are common signs of cats that have been exposed to high levels of ammonia for an extended period of time. The investigation determined there was a lack of clean exchange of air that has caused severe and repeated infliction of pain and suffering in at least five cats inside the residence.

During an interview, Ms. Lacharite admitted she knew the conditions inside the residence were not good for them or the animals. She stated that she has been overwhelmed by the amount of animals she has, and that it has become too much for her to handle. She agreed to surrender all of the animals, except for her three dogs and her mother’s three cats.

In total, there were 142 cats, 3 dogs, and 164 fowl (ducks, chickens, geese, and a peacock) seized from the property (all from within the residence) pending a forfeiture hearing.

Based on the investigation, detectives determined the owner Lisa Lacharite has neglected to provide the legal obligations to care and support her animals. Lacharite confined 304 of her animals to the residence, and smaller rooms inside the residence without an exchange of air. The ammonia levels inside the residence can be lethal to humans and animals over a period of time. These environmental factors caused at least 5 of her cats to repeatedly suffer eye/nasal discharge and significant respiratory problems in the form of coughing and wheezing. Lacharite was arrested for felony animal cruelty (5 counts), animal neglect (304 counts), and one count of elder neglect. Lacharite was transported to the Polk County Jail without incident,

All of the animals have been removed from the residence were transported to Animal Control. The animals will be evaluated by veterinarians. 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 animals (cats, dogs) to stop by Animal Control today (Friday) or tomorrow (Saturday) at 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven, FL. People can also email [email protected] and provide your name, address, email, and telephone number and how you would like to help.

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Carl Fish

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