POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A judge gave the Polk County Sheriff’s Office custody of more than 100 animals seized in August from an alleged rescue. A total of 182 pigs, chickens, cats, dogs and other animals had been taken.
Four of the seized animals were returned to their owners, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office. The sheriff’s office was awarded 178 animals.
In addition to award the sheriff’s office custody of the animals, Judge Gerald Hill II issued an injunction to prevent the alleged rescue’s operators from owning any animals, according to PETA.
It was undercover video from PETA that prompted the investigation. Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Darlynn Czerner, age 65, and Clinton “Butch” Martin, age 61, the owners of Darlynn’s Darlins Rescue Ranch, located on Evans Road in Polk City.
A sign at the property lists the organization as an “Animal Rescue, Life Sanctuary, a no kill organization saving lives, educating people and speaking out for those with no voice.”
The investigation began with a tip that animals were not being fed.
The PETA volunteers, using hidden body cameras, recorded video of the abuse, and turned it over to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
“They were knowingly depriving these animals of food, water and veterinary care. They admitted that these pigs went without food for five days. They admitted that they couldn’t be bothered to secure their water dishes, so they could get at least have a drink in the sun and humidity. You had pigs who were left to lay on the sun for 13 days, unable to move, unable to even stand up and drink, simply left to die. They were starving in plain sight,” said Dan Paden of PETA.
“In the years of doing this work, this is by far among the most systemically neglected animals of any species I’ve ever seen,” Paden added.
Here are the animals seized by the sheriff’s office in August:
- 120 pigs/hogs
- 40 chickens
- 12 cats
- 5 dogs
- 1 rabbit
- 1 horse
- 1 steer
- 2 ducks
The Pig Advocate’s League and PETA will help the sheriff’s office place the pigs.