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Crime & Courts

Fla. couple charged with animal cruelty, child abuse after nearly 300 animals found

A southwest Florida couple have been charged with animal cruelty and child abuse after authorities responding to a call about a missing child discovered 300 neglected animals in their home, including three dead rats and a dead hamster.

Pinellas County Sheriff's officials responded to the Oldsmar home Sunday after receiving a call from Jeffrey O'Neil and Jennifer Kovacs about the 16-month-old girl's disappearance. Authorities say she was found unharmed at the home of a relative who took her after trying unsuccessfully to awaken the allegedly intoxicated couple.

Deputies said they found hundreds of snakes, lizards, rats, birds and rabbits being kept in deplorable conditions inside the house. They said the animals were being bred and sold without the proper licensing.

It was not known if the couple have an attorney.

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