PHOTOS: 87 adorable dogs, cats taken from New Port Richey home

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) – Pasco County Animal Services put the brakes on a major animal hoarding case Wednesday. Officers seized 87 cats and dogs from a home at 9115 Teak Street in New Port Richey.

Sidney Strobeck lives in the home and was the one who called authorities. Strobeck said the home owner, Patricia Abezis, hired him several years ago to take care of her animals, but they kept multiplying.

“Just got overwhelmed, it did,” Strobeck said. “She liked animals, and stuff. She didn’t want to get rid of any of them. It happens, you know?”

Animal control officers cited Strobeck and Abezis with civil animal cruelty, citations both say they plan to fight. The case didn’t rise to the level of a criminal charge because most of the animals were well fed and in relatively good health.

The reason the animals were seized was because the ammonia level in the home made it dangerous for them.  Animal Services Director Mike Shumate said officers couldn’t even enter the mobile home at first. The ammonia level was that high.

“They did an air quality test with emergency management and it literally blew the levels off the scale they were using,” Shumate said. “So we aired out the house and the officers went in and found out what the situation was in there.”

Authorities said Abezis was essentially trying to run her own shelter, taking in animals and trying to adopt them out. “And I’m not sure where she was getting her animals, local sources,” Shumate said. “Where a few animals got to 87, we really don’t know what went wrong there.”

Strobeck said he called animal services because he wants to make sure the animals find good forever homes. “At least I know now the animals will likely have good homes … once they get out of quarantine,” he said.

Owner admits she shares in the blame but points to caretaker

Two years ago Strobeck was homeless and Abezis told him if he took care of the animals, she’d give him room and board. “And this is what happens when you have a big heart and you try to help out and you’re known to help animals,” Abezis said.

Abezis said she thought she had a few dozen dogs, but then feral cats started getting into the vents of her house. She said those cats started having kittens.

Abezis said she’s not the only one at fault. Even though things got way out of hand, she claims she’s also a victim.

She told News Channel 8 Strobeck took advantage of her and she couldn’t do anything to stop it. “I’m a person with a big heart,” Abezis said from her home.

She said when it came to the 87 dogs and cats at the house, she did the best she could. She told us it wasn’t right for a person to have that many animals in one house – and denied she did.

“I didn’t have that many,” she said. “I didn’t even know this was going on.”

She said Strobeck knew.

“I can only pray to God that they get the best homes and that’s all I ever wanted for them,” Abezis said.

She told News Channel 8 she’s helped thousands of animals find homes. In addition, she said she let things get out of hand because she recently lost her parents.

Meanwhile, Strobeck told us he was just doing his job and not it’s a war of words with the animals caught in the middle. “I believe I did the right thing because animals can’t speak for themselves,” he said.

“It was rough, but I managed, you know,” Strobeck said.  “After a while you get used to the odor, I guess.”

Information on adoption

The dogs and cats are currently being checked out by animal services. Some are already adoptable.  For more information you can log onto the county’s website at and click on animal services.

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