HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (CBS Tampa) - An area woman is facing over 50 criminal charges after sealing her pets in plastic containers that were stored inside of a locked U-Haul van.
Authorities believe that the perpetrator, 53-year-old Frances Terry Evans, did so to avoid compliance with an order from Pasco County officials to give the animals up by Tuesday.
Hernando County Sheriff’s Office were called to the scene after being asked by a Pasco County Code Enforcement Official to investigate the U-Haul, which was parked at a local Publix. According to a press release issued by police, when deputies arrived, they found the U-Haul, and “could hear animals in obvious distress inside [it].”
The temperature of the interior of the vehicle was described as “extremely hot,” and the animals were trapped inside of what police referred to in the release as “plastic containers (similar to Tupperware containers).”
In all, officials with Hernando County Animal Service found 50 cats and three dogs on board – the vast majority of them in need of urgent veterinary assistance due to their deteriorating states.
The animals were taken to a facility with Hernando County Animal Services for further care, after Pasco County Code Enforcement officials refused to take them.
Responding police speculated as to the motive behind Evans’ actions.
The release stated, “The Pasco Code Enforcement Officials identified the driver and owner … [and] believed she took the animals to the Publix parking lot in an effort to hide them, as she was court ordered to turn them over to Pasco County officials by [May 21].”
Evans was charged with 53 counts of animal abandonment and fined $500 per count – $26,500 in all. A warrant for 53 counts of animal cruelty has also been obtained, the report noted.