INVESTIGATES: Local woman who had nearly 300 animals seized from her property owes $300,000 in fines

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. — Action News Jax investigation reveals a woman who had nearly 300 animals on her property has accumulated nearly $300,000 dollars in prior code enforcement fines.

Almost 300 animals removed from an Orange Park property earlier in the month are recovering at the Clay County Fairgrounds under the county’s care.

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Through our investigation, Action News Jax has uncovered records of past violations at the property they came from.

”Everybody’s nice and healthy-looking, fed, bellies are full,” Morgan Grove, volunteer coordinator for the Board of Clay County Commissioners said.

Grove says the animals have been through a lot. The skeletal remains of the ones that didn’t survive were found by first responders on the Orange Park property the animals came from.

The county tells Action News Jax a judge ordered the animals be handed over to the county. The judge also ordered the tenant pay for their transfer, care and feeding costs.

”We were in the area of almost $70,000” John Ward, director of emergency management said.

The judge also ordered the tenant can no longer have animals on the property.

Action News Jax uncovered records that show the tenant had multiple warnings from code enforcement dating back to 2005. Records cite issues with abandoned cars and structures on the property.

A document says multiple letters were sent to the tenant, and almost six months later, a reinspection found the property was still in violation.

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The county says the tenant owes just over $283,000 in fines. Action News Jax’s calculations show that means the tenant has been fined $50 a day since 2006.

Despite a rough past, Grove knows one thing for sure: the animals are resilient.

”Considering everything going on, everybody is in pretty good spirits,” she said.

The county plans to hold a mass adoption event at the fairgrounds. The county will release more information on those plans next week.