POLK COUNTY, Fla. – The Polk County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a case of animal neglect, which led to the arrest of a woman after officials seized over 30 cats and one dog from a home determined to be unlivable. The suspect, 57-year-old Sharon Cochran, was charged with 36 counts of animal neglect and one count of neglect of an elderly person. This case sheds light on a concerning trend of individuals hoarding animals, thinking they are helping, when in fact, they are causing harm.
On Thursday, deputies responded to a home on Pope Lane in unincorporated southwest Polk County for a well-being check of an older woman. There, they discovered a house with a strong odor of ammonia, feces scattered throughout, and over 30 cats residing inside. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office requested the Animal Cruelty Investigations Unit to respond, and upon further investigation, they found the living conditions to be unfit for both humans and animals. The air inside was recorded to have an ammonia reading of 15 ppm by Polk County Fire Rescue, making it hazardous for prolonged exposure.
As a result, the officials removed the dog and 35 cats from the residence, which lacked litter boxes and had non-operational air conditioning. It was also revealed that Cochran, the suspect, is the sole caregiver of an 82-year-old woman with limited mobility, adding to the severity of the charges brought against her. The hope now is for the animals to be rehabilitated and eventually adopted into loving homes, while the elderly victim has been relocated to family members for proper care.
This recent incident highlights the importance of addressing animal neglect and the need for greater awareness of hoarding behaviors that may initially appear to be helpful but ultimately lead to harmful consequences for both animals and vulnerable individuals. The investigation is ongoing, and the authorities are working to ensure the well-being of the rescued animals and the elderly victim.