Brooksville kennel operator charged with animal cruelty after investigators find 11 dead puppies

The operator of a Brooksville kennel has been arrested for animal cruelty after investigators found 11 dead puppies on the property.

The Hernando County Sheriff's Office said their animal enforcement officer received information that several puppies had died of canine parvovirus, or parvo, within days of being sold from Golden Kennel.

Parvo is a highly contagious virus that affects the gastrointestinal tract. It can affect all dogs, but unvaccinated dogs and puppies younger than four months are the most at risk.

(Hernando County Sheriff's Office)

When an officer went to investigate the facility, located at 9203 Weatherly Road, the operator, Jian Karlos Ortiz Mendez, refused to allow full access to the puppies.

While speaking with Mendez, the officer observed a "very sick puppy" on the floor, and said Mendez told her his veterinarian "was aware."

While executing a search warrant, the animal enforcement officer found 11 dead puppies at the kennel, "improperly disposed of in garbage cans on the property."

The sheriff's office seized eight puppies from the property and brought them to local veterinarians for treatment. Each of the puppies exhibited signs consistent with parvo, investigators said.

(Hernando County Sheriff's Office)

Approximately 138 dogs were left on the property under the care of kennel staff. The sheriff's office said no dogs or puppies may be sold or taken from the facility unless removed under the direct care of a veterinarian.

Deputies arrested Mendez, charging him with 11 counts of aggravated animal cruelty and one count of animal neglect. He is being held on $23,000 bond.