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Thanks to tip, dozens of animals removed from property

Published June 12, 2007

Hillsborough County Department of Animal Services veterinary technician Dannette Gillespie brings forward another puppy as one (right) gets weighed, examined and medicated. The two puppies are about five weeks old.
[Times photo: Skip O' Rourke]
[Times photo: Skip O'Rourke]
Dr. Isabelle Roese, a veterinarian for Hillsborough County Department of Animal Services, medicates a puppy.

It looked like a Florida retirement dream gone to seed. Under the leafy canopy, oranges rotted beside loose chicken eggs and piles of garbage near Myrtle Stewart's mobile home.

Stewart, 82, sat in a lawn chair in the yard Monday as investigators questioned her about the 52 dogs and cats found living in filth inside her home.

An anonymous tip led Hillsborough County Animal Services to Stewart's home, a wooded property at 2403 Parsons Avenue in Seffner.

Stewart answered the door, her clothing and feet dirtied by animal excrement, said Hillsborough County Animals Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan.

A second mobile home next to the first yielded more animals. That's not counting the chickens and roosters whose clucks and crows filled the air.

Animal workers loaded the dogs and cats into vans and took them to a facility on Falkenburg Road, where they received health examinations.

Stewart, who has no state criminal record, did not cooperate with investigators, Ryan said. Nor could she be reached for comment by a Times reporter.

Her daughter thanked investigators for dealing with the problem, Ryan said. The woman told animal workers that her mother had refused to give up the animals.

No criminal charges had been filed late Monday afternoon, Ryan said.

Anyone with information about such animal cases can contact Animal Services at 813-744-5660.

News researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Abbie VanSickle can be reached at 226-3373 or

[Last modified June 11, 2007, 23:51:59]

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