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300 animals found in home

Posted at 9:58 AM, Jan 07, 2013
and last updated 2013-01-07 11:11:41-05

OLDSMAR, Fla. (WTVR) -  Florida police responding to a missing child call made a startling discovery -- hundreds of animals living in a small home, surrounded by filth.

26-year-old Jennifer Kovacs and her boyfriend 28-year-old Jeffrey O'Neil were arrested after police arrived to help find their 16-month-old daughter.

Police said the couple and the girl were living with hundreds of rodents, rabbits, lizards, and snakes. Investigators said the couple was breeding and selling the animals without a license.

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Kovacs' mother lived with them and owns the house -- she said she felt powerless to get rid of the animals herself.

"I've been begging my daughter and her boyfriend -- that it was getting out of control.  Rats continually breed," Joyce Kovacs said. "Rabbits continually breed. I mean, you wouldn't want to be in a cage for three days or four days with poop."

The couple told police their daughter had crawled out of her crib, opened the front door, and wandered off.  It turns out the girl wasn't missing -- a relative had stopped by to check on the girl, and found her crying with both parents asleep.

The relative took the child and left a note.  Deputies found the note and say the girl is in good care. The parents face child abuse and animal cruelty charges.