Society

Animal Sanctuary Owners Charged with Animal Cruelty, Accused of Stealing Donated Funds

| by Phyllis M Daugherty
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Alan and Sheree Napier were on a cruise to celebrate their 27th wedding anniversary when authorities raided Napier's Log Cabin Horse & Animal Sanctuary, Inc., in Manatee, Florida, in February 2014.  At that time, authorities confiscated hundreds of sick and starving animals, according to Bradenton.com

The couple came home from their cruise to find their shelter closed. Their attorney, Peter Lombardo, said he thought it was “unfair” because the couple had not yet been charged with a crime. 

However, Lombardo reportedly did not object in court when the sheriff asked for more time to investigation allegations of fraud and animal abuse because of “the breadth of the issues.”

While the Napiers were on their celebratory cruise, 300 starving dogs were left behind, crowded into pens and parasite and insect- infested crates scattered throughout a feces-filled home, according to ABC News.

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The bodies of at least 20 dead animals were also removed, the sheriff reports

One deputy said of the investigation, “In my 33 years of doing law enforcement, this has to be the worst that I've ever had.”

Shortly therafter, the Napiers were indicted on 20 felony charges, including cruelty to animals, scheming to defraud and unlawful solicitation of funds.

NEW CHARGES OF STEALING DONATED FUNDS

With the trial for the animal cruelty charges scheduled to begin later this month, ABC News reports the Napiers are now being accused of stealing from their own charitable organization.

Court documents obtained by ABC News show that $9,000 of the organizations donor funds was spent by the Napiers on cruise vacations over the span of four years.

Additionally, it appears that not all of the Napiers’ dogs were rescued and that they may have purchased 63 puppies from a Georgia kennel for $8,000 for the purpose of adopting them out at a price totaling two to three times that amount.

Most of the animals seized last year ended up being adopted through Manatee County Animal Services and area rescue agencies, ABC reports.

HOW RAMPANT IS MISUSE OF DONATED FUNDS TO ANIMAL CHARITIES?

Merritt Clifton, editor of Animals24/7.com, has produced an annual publication since 1988 called the Watchdog Report which tracks the reported donations and expenditures of more than 150 of the largest animal charities.

He states that: “Excluding the direct mail mils and the “scammers,” most animal charities use an appropriate amount of their donations on animals and expenses related to their care to fulfill the mission of their organization.  The average for the field over the past 25 years has been 28% spent on fundraising & administration and 72% on program service, and the overwhelming majority of animal charities are within 5% of that.”

Sources: ABC Action News, Bradenton / Photo Credit: MySunCoast, Bradenton