Horses, snakes, and more confiscated from Polk ranch

Horses, snakes, and more confiscated from Polk ranch

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Photos courtesy PCSO. Photos courtesy PCSO.
LAKELAND (FOX 13) - A man and woman in Lakeland were arrested and their veritable zoo was confiscated after deputies say they discovered several malnourished horses.

According to investigators, the owner of one of the horses contacted deputies after learning that the boarding fees she was paying to Michael Caudy and Emily Cowper were not, in fact, going to pay for the care of her horse 'Dixie Boy.'

Deputies said this was clear when Dixie Boy became "extremely emaciated" to the point of being in a "skeletal state," and a subsequent investigation revealed he was not the only one.

"They advertised that they would board and train your horse," said Polk Sheriff Grady Judd. "We found the only thing they were doing was training horses how to starve."

A total of 18 horses were confiscated from the pair's Polk City property at 9920 Steven Drive. One horse was in such bad shape that it was unable to stand, and died at the scene as a veterinarian was tending to it.Other animals removed from the pair's custody included a dog, a cat, a kitten, 14 snakes, six mice, two iguanas, a grey parrot and a love bird.

Cowper, 24, and Caudy, 28, both admitted neglecting the animals, deputies said. They each face charges of animal cruelty and confining an animal without sufficient food and water.

Caudy faces an additional charge after deputies say they found a Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office badge in his dresser drawer. He allegedly admitted that he had stolen it from the home of a deputy.

He remained in jail Wednesday morning with a bond set at $23,750. Cowper, however posted her $26,000 bond and was released Tuesday night around 10 p.m.

Both Cowper and Caudy have made their first appearances in court.

Correction: Due to incorrect information from the Polk County Sheriff's Office, an earlier version of the story said the animals were confiscated from a property on Broken Arrow Trail; that is actually the couple's residence. The horses were confiscated from a separate property in Polk City. 

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