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Last update: October 27, 2005


DELTONA -- Neighbors and an animal control officer are wondering why a county judge allowed a woman to keep two dogs after 67 animals were found in her home last month, some soaked in urine and feces.

Linda Mae Castillo, 63, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of animal cruelty and confinement of animals without sufficient water, food or exercise.

The felony and misdemeanor charges were filed against Castillo after Deltona Animal Control Officers removed 16 dogs, 45 cats and a ring-neck dove from her house at 767 W. Ninth Street on Sept. 28. All the animals were taken to Halifax Humane Society in Daytona Beach, but one dog died en route.

Most of the dogs, placed in the care of the humane society, appeared to be in decent condition but a couple had open sores, officials said. A majority of the cats had to be euthanized because of their poor condition.

In an Oct. 11 civil hearing, County Judge Shirley A. Green ordered the humane society to give back two Doberman pinschers to Castillo if she cleaned her home. Castillo was also ordered to pay the humane society $4,145.70 for the care of the 67 animals seized.

Green did not return calls to her office Wednesday. But in her order, Green stated Castillo could have the dogs if the home passed a city inspection.

City officials had hoped Castillo would not be allowed to keep another animal. They fear that allowing Castillo to have the two dogs could lead to her hoarding animals again. Officials hope the court will finalize plans to authorize them to check the house frequently.

"It's not what the city wanted," Animal Control officer Richard Lovett said of the judge's order. "It was something that the judge decided."

Neighbors are also concerned. Many complained that a stench from animal feces and urine permeated the neighborhood.

"I think the court dropped the ball. She's (Castillo) got a good heart but something is not right with her," said neighbor Susan Patterson. "If she is an animal hoarder, a compulsive animal keeper, it is going to happen again."

Patterson said the court should get help for Castillo instead of putting her in a situation where animals might be harmed.

Castillo was not home Wednesday when The Daytona Beach News-Journal visited, although two Dobermans rushed and began barking and clawing at the windows. She also did not return requests for comments.

For now, neighbors hope the city will continue checking the home. They say they have seen what looked like rats coming from the home.

"I don't think she should have animals," neighbor Dan Bailey said.
 
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