- Florida, USA -
The Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) wrote in a Facebook post that on Wednesday, January 13, officials arrested 56-year-old ROBERT ALLAN SCHWEICKERT JR. (pictured below), after animals were found to be kept in deplorable conditions.
SCHWEICKERT JR., is the owner of the animal rescue Out of the Box Animal Rescue on at 7007 South Florida Avenue in Floral City.
The Sheriff’s Office say that SCHWEICKERT JR. “failed to correct prior citations issued by officials regarding inadequate kennel sizes and inhumane housing of animals at the rescue.”
Sheriff Mike Prendergast said: “Under the guise of a rescue, these precious animals suffered in deplorable conditions because of one man’s refusal to provide the basic, minimum requirements of care.”
According to the press release, “The CCSO received multiple complaints regarding the conditions at Out of the Box Animal Rescue.”
An investigation into the complaints led to SCHWEICKERT JR. being cited for and found guilty of failing to meet Citrus County Code of Ordinances regarding the required kennel space of 80 sq. ft. per dog in November 2020.
On that occasion, animal control officers issued SCHWEICKERT JR. a citation, giving him 10 days to bring his kennels in compliance with this ordinance.
SCHWEICKERT JR. failed to comply.
On January 7, 2021, the honorable Judge Carney ordered SCHWEICKERT JR. to allow AC Officer Gallant to enter the rescue property on January 12, to inspect and document kennel sizes and housing practices of the animals on scene.
When Officer Gallant went to animal rescue, SCHWEICKERT JR. failed to appear at the rescue.
Officer Gallant waited over an hour past the designated time.
Officer Gallant and assisting deputies were able to gather evidence showing several violations from the outside fenced area of the rescue.
Later in the day, deputies saw SCHWEICKERT JR. outside the front gate of the rescue.
Officer Gallant then went back and asked SCHWEICKERT JR. if he would allow him to enter to inspect the property as per court order.
SCHWEICKERT JR. refused Officer Gallant entry.
Taking the existing evidence collected, along with the refusal of the court-ordered inspection, the State Attorney’s Office issued a warrant for SCHWEICKERT JR.’s arrest.
Animal control officers and the sheriff’s deputies went back to the animal rescue.
When they arrived, they found SCHWEICKERT JR. and two volunteers.
SCHWEICKERT JR. was finally taken into custody, and officers were finally able to enter the property.
After inspecting the living conditions of the animals, they discovered numerous violations, both civil and criminal, regarding housing and care of the animals on the premises.
According to the press release, “Violations on scene included: the failure to meet county ordinance regarding kennel space of 80 sq. ft. per dog required, several kennels left outside in the elements with no coverage while other small kennels were found with corrugated roofs and tarps wrapped around the entire kennel – drastically restricting the airflow to the animal, and kennels with wood or particleboard floors that were urine saturated, rotten, with large holes gaping open. Several dogs need medical care and were infested with fleas.”
The press release continues to state: “Some of the most disturbing conditions discovered included dogs locked inside bathrooms with no windows or lights, with urine covered floors. Sadly, one dog was found living in an old walk-in freezer type unit that doubled as a storage room. The unit was similar to the box of a moving van – completely metal, no windows, no electricity, and no ventilation. The door to the unit was closed and locked with the poor animal inside.”
From this hellish place animal control removed a total of 43 dogs, 3 hens, and 1 pig.
The poor souls were transported to the Citrus County Animal Shelter.
In addition, Citrus County Fire Rescue’s Hazmat Unit responded to take air quality readings which will be forwarded for case evidence.
The firefighter who took the readings attempted to enter without protective gear but had to come back out and put on Tyvek and full breathing gear due to the levels of ammonia in the buildings.
SCHWEICKERT JR., faces 25 counts of cruelty to animals charges with other pending.
His current bond is set at $12,500.
Sheriff’s Prendergast sent out thanks to everyone who contributed to rescuing these innocent animals and said: “Thank you to our resilient Animal Control Officers who work diligently to protect our animal friends here in Citrus County. And thank you to those citizens who had the courage to speak up and get these animals the help they needed.”
He then added: “Remember, these precious animals cannot speak up for themselves, they need the help of courageous citizens like YOU!”