Friday, October 30, 2009

Our Animal Haus - Carol Mas and Estebahn Agustinho

Oct 30, 2009: Judge Rules Animals Removed From Fla. Sanctuary

Carol Mas and husband Estebahn Agustinho were warned about neglect at Our Animal Haus. The Hernando County judge said he saw no malice, but the couple took on more than they could handle.

The removal was expected to start Friday.

Mas, a pop singer in the 1970s, said they were being foreclosed on and just needed a little help. In September, the Huffington Post Web site wrote about her musical past and shelter's financial problems.

An animal services supervisor said he saw evidence of animal hoarding syndrome. The couple kept dead carcasses in a freezer, and inspections found severely malnourished animals, filthy bird and cat cages and untreated disease and injury..."

Oct 29, 2009: Humane Society officials see signs of animal hoarding in Hernando case

By Logan Neill

BROOKSVILLE — To Hernando County Animal Services officers, the home on Lanark Road seemed like a zoo run amok.

The owners of the nonprofit Our Animal Haus animal sanctuary had become overwhelmed with caring for more than 200 animals in their charge, officials would later say.

During eight visits to the 12-acre property of Carol Mas and her husband, Estebahn Agustinho, officers documented numerous examples of animal neglect.

Animal Services director Liana Teague said that despite repeated warnings, the couple allowed conditions to deteriorate. The agency offered to help find homes for some of the animals, yet Teague said Mas steadfastly refused those offers.

The couple are due in county court today for a hearing to determine their fitness to continue as owners of Animal Haus. A court order issued last Friday prohibited Mas from taking in any new animals.

What would make someone who professes a deep love for animals refuse numerous offers of assistance?

Mas' behavior is consistent with that of an "animal hoarding syndrome," said Jen Hobgood, state director for the Humane Society of the United States.

The syndrome, she explained this week, is a pathological disorder that involves a compulsive need to collect and control animals, coupled with an inability to provide proper nutrition, sanitation, shelter and veterinary care for them..." More

Oct 23, 2009: Owner of Hernando County rescue Our Animal House can keep animals

By Logan Neill

BROOKSVILLE — Owners of a troubled animal rescue are being allowed to retain guardianship of the 200 animals on their property, as long as they cooperate with Hernando County Animal Services inspectors.

Carol Mas, co-owner of the non-profit Our Animal Haus sanctuary, appeared before county Judge Kurt Hitzemann on Friday to answer accusations by officials that she and her husband, Estebahn Agustinho, failed to provide proper food and living conditions for the animals in their care.

Animal Services supervisor Patrick Pace said a monthlong investigation at the 12-acre property on Lanark Road had uncovered incidences of chronic malnutrition in some animals, untreated wounds on a horse and donkey, and numerous cleanliness issues where animals were housed.

On Oct. 16, a severely malnourished chestnut mare named Ginger was ordered removed from the property by Animal Services. The horse, estimated to be 18 to 20 years old, was later euthanized after a veterinarian who determined it was too weak to save. Another horse and seven cats were removed from the property Wednesday.

In a rambling response, Mas spent nearly 20 minutes in court countering most of the agency's claims. She said the euthanized horse had arrived at her property underweight two years earlier, but she and her husband, who did not appear at the hearing, never thought the animal was suffering...

...Although she admitted that her $476,000 home had been foreclosed on, Mas denied she was in financial distress, saying an unidentified "financial backer" had agreed to pay for improvements to the property.

Mas and her husband moved to the property in 2006 to establish Our Animal Haus. The couple's menagerie grew to include 40 dogs, 98 cats, 48 birds, five horses and a donkey, plus an assortment of domestic and exotic pets, including rabbits, ferrets and a prairie dog.

Pace said a Sept. 16 visit revealed growing problems as the couple became more and more overwhelmed by the work and expense involved in caring for so many animals. Photos entered into evidence showed piles of animal feces in several areas of the home's living quarters.

Another set of photos showed several of the 27 dead animals that officers discovered inside a freezer. Mas explained that she kept the animals there because she was unsure of laws regarding animal burials on her property.

Under Hitzemann's order, Mas must give unfettered access to animal control officers and may not take in any new animals. Animals that have been seized will remain in custody of Animal Services and may be euthanized if so recommended by a veterinarian..." More