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Monday, April 15, 2024

Dog rescued from deplorable conditions in Ocala reunites with former foster family

Nearly a month after being rescued from deplorable conditions at an overwhelmed sanctuary in Ocala, a dog named Beau has found a loving home with his former foster family.

On February 1, a total of 53 dogs were rescued from a two-bedroom residence located in the 5700 block of NW 6th Street in Ocala. Marion County Animal Services staff responded to the property and observed that the dogs 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 their own waste was caked to their fur. Some of the dogs were also thin and had “considerable dental issues.”

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 owner of the dogs, Matthew Keel, was the director and registered agent of the No BS Sanctuary, Inc., a Florida nonprofit corporation that was formed in June of 2020. As the number of dogs in his care grew, Keel used Facebook to solicit donations of dog food and funds. However, he soon became overwhelmed by the sheer number of dogs on his property, according to Animal Services.

A week after the dogs were rescued from the home, Marion County was awarded custody of them. In addition, the judge 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.

Animal Services stated that each rescued dog was scanned for a microchip onsite as part of the initial intake procedures before being transported to the county’s shelter. While the dogs underwent various medical assessments and hygiene treatments, Animal Services staff began researching the few microchip readings that were found among the dogs.

Marion County Animal Services photo of dog, Beau, taken when he was rescued from home in 2024
This photo of Beau was taken earlier this month after he was rescued from the two-bedroom Ocala home. According to Animal Services, he was one of the few dogs that had a microchip. (Photo: Marion County Animal Services)

One of those microchip readings was for Beau, and it pointed to Pasco County Animal Services. The team in Pasco County searched their database and archived records, but they were unable to find a match. However, handwritten records from 2012 matched the microchip’s serial number that was provided by the Marion County team.

Pasco County’s records included contact information for a volunteer, Jeanne Rivera, who had fostered Beau 12 years ago, prior to the dog being placed with a young family. Jenn Correnti, Supervisor at Marion County Animal Control, called Rivera to gather more information about Beau’s previous owner.

Rivera told Correnti that she had fostered Beau for around a month, and she shared photos from the dog’s stay at her home.

Marion County Animal Services photo of dog, Beau, taken from his foster home in 2012
This photo of Beau was taken in 2012 when he was staying with his foster volunteer, Jeanne Rivera. (Photo: Jeanne Rivera)

According to Rivera, Beau had been adopted by a young family, though she eventually lost touch with them over the years.

Marion County Animal Services stated that Rivera, with little hesitation, told Correnti to get Beau ready for pickup, and she began the drive to Marion County. A few hours later, Beau was brought out to one of the animal center’s play yards for a reunion with Rivera.

Marion County Animal Services Beau with former foster volunteer and new owner
After 12 years apart, Jeanne Rivera (left) has happily welcomed Beau back into her home. (Photo: Marion County Animal Services)

After greeting Rivera, Beau trotted around the play yard to explore. “Beau’s demeanor was happy and curious but not aggressive to Rivera’s granddaughter and pet dachshund who had come along to meet Beau,” stated Animal Services.

Rivera quickly finalized the placement paperwork. She then loaded Beau in a donated kennel, which was placed in the back of her SUV, and she brought Beau to his new forever home.

While Beau and a majority of the rescued dogs have found adoptive or rescue placements, 17 of the dogs are still in need of a loving home. There are also more than 240 other pets at the animal shelter that are seeking forever families, according to Animal Services.

“While 9 of the 17 dogs still in the care of Marion County Animal Services from this cruelty case have been rehabilitated to an adoptable status, we still have many that are in need of enrichment and socialization necessary to ready them for adoption,” stated Animal Services.

The Animal Services team attends events throughout Marion County and the region in hopes of finding new homes for the wide variety of pets that are cared for at their facilities and by foster volunteers. The available pets can be viewed online via the Adopt Pets button.

In addition to dogs and cats, there are also other adoptable pets such as guinea pigs, iguanas, rabbits, and birds.

Animal Services stated that Beau’s happy tale was made possible by Pasco County’s commitment to microchipping, which began more than a decade ago.

Microchips are available for $15 at Marion County’s animal center, which is located at 5701 SE 66th Street in Ocala. This non-removable form of identification is around the size of a grain of rice, and it contains a personal identification number that stays with the pet forever.

To schedule a microchipping appointment for your pet, contact Marion County Animal Services via phone (352-671-8700) or email (AnimalServices@MarionFL.org).