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Sunday, March 3, 2024

Marion County awarded custody of 53 dogs rescued from Ocala home

Marion County Animal Services has been awarded custody of 53 dogs that were rescued from a home in northwest Ocala last week.

On Thursday, February 1, Animal Services received a call from a citizen who voiced concerns about dogs that were living in a two-bedroom residence. Animal Services staff responded to the property, which was located in the 5700 block of NW 6th Street in Ocala.

Upon arrival, Animal Services found 53 dogs that were being kept in poor and unsanitary conditions inside the home. One of the dogs was deceased.

Marion County Animal Services awarded custody of 53 dogs from Ocala sanctuary photo of kennels and deplorable conditions
The interior of the two-bedroom home was described by Animal Services as “poor and unsanitary.” (Photo: Marion County Animal Services).

According to Animal Services, most of the dogs were confined to crates and had their own waste caked to their fur. In addition, some the dogs were thin and had “considerable dental issues.”

The dogs were found in kennels inside the two-bedroom home. (Photo: Marion County Animal Services)
A majority of the dogs were found in crates inside the two-bedroom Ocala home. (Photo: Marion County Animal Services)

The owner of the dogs, Matthew Keel, is the director and registered agent of the No BS Sanctuary, Inc., which is a Florida nonprofit corporation that was formed in June of 2020.

Animal Services stated that as the number of dogs in Keel’s care grew, he used Facebook to solicit donations of dog food and funds. However, he soon became overwhelmed by the abundance of dogs on his property.

Marion County Animal Services 4 of the dogs seized from Ocala home on Feb 1, 2024
Four of the seized dogs being treated by Animal Services staff. (Photo: Marion County Animal Services)

The dogs were transported to the county’s animal center, where they received immediate medical care, and they have remained there while the animal cruelty case was pursued.

The county attorney’s office filed an emergency petition seeking custody of the 53 dogs. The hearing was scheduled within a week’s time due to the lack of space at Animal Services, as well as lack of availability for placement of the dogs at known local rescues.

At the hearing, the judge listened to expert testimony from the county’s in-house veterinarian who examined and has overseen the care of the 53 dogs since they arrived at the center. The county attorney’s office also presented the findings from the investigation, along with pictures and a video of the two-bedroom home.

The judge ultimately ruled in favor of the county’s request to enjoin Keel and No BS Sanctuary, Inc., meaning he is unable to legally own any animals without first seeking permission from the court as an individual or a corporation.

As of Monday, February, 5, Animal Services is overcrowded with more than 400 animals in their care. The shelter is in urgent need of adopters, fosters, and volunteers.

For more information, or to view the animals that are currently available for adoption, visit the Marion County Animal Services website.