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 March 29th, 2012  
Sheriff Mascara announces arrest of Palena Rae Dorsey on 157 animal cruelty charges in Sancuary Animal Refuge case
Palena Rae Dorsey, the former owner-operator of the Sanctuary Animal Refuge west of Fort Pierce, is now charged with 157 counts of animal cruelty, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.

In February, Dorsey was booked into the St. Lucie County jail on a charge of grand theft. A Sheriff's Office investigation showed that she converted to personal use $262,000 from a bequest of money intended for the care of the animals at the shelter.

This morning, the additional charges of animal cruelty were added: 103 felony charges and 54 misdemeanor charges.

Here is a statement from Sheriff Mascara:

On April 18, 2011, Master Deputy Rick Stuhr responded to 9550 Carlton Road, a business known as the Sanctuary Animal Refuge.  Master Deputy Stuhr was notified by animal control about possible animal abuse at the shelter and requested law enforcement assistance. 

It was learned that volunteers had arrived prior to April 18 and discovered over 150 animals in need of water and food.  There was no caregiver at the facility, and the animals were living in a feces-and-urine-infested facility that was in deplorable shape.  No large food supplies or common animal medicine was found on the property to care for a large group of animals.  Master Deputy Stuhr learned that outside animal rescue personal were onsite for approximately one week before law enforcement or animal control was notified of these conditions. 

After inspection of the facility it was discovered that the building was in disrepair and was a safety hazard.  The walls were covered in mildew. There were holes in the walls, as well as open or exposed electrical outlets, and dog urine and feces were spread throughout the building.  

The outside pens were also in various states of disrepair.  Some kennels were of dirt floors, some concrete, some with very little or no shelter for the animals to get out of the elements.  The property had living and dead rodents throughout.  It done to the property or the facilities on the property in some time. 

Several volunteers including veterinarians were called in to examine the animals.  As a result, animals were found to be malnourished, had little or no vet care, and were infected with numerous diseases including heartworms, hair loss, open and unhealed sores,  dehydration, mange, diarrhea, flea infestation, bad teeth, root exposure, and extreme weight loss.  After health care was given to these animals, 16 dogs were unable to recover from their condition and had to be euthanized.

As a result the State Attorney’s Office issued a 157-count information charging Palena Dorsey with 103 felony counts of cruelty to animals and 54 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. 

Also during this time Detective Valentine conducted an investigation into Palena Dorsey for grand theft.  Dorsey was the owner/operator of the Sanctuary Animal Refuge and had access to a large trust that was set up to pay for the care of these animals.  The investigation determined that Dorsey systematically stole this money and used it for her personal gain.  The trust contained in excess of $500,000.00 when started in the fall of 2010.

Almost immediately Dorsey started to steal money from the trust to purchase items from the Home Shopping Club and QVC, and purchased appliances and electronics, two vehicles, and a home.  In total, Dorsey stole in excess of  $250,000 over a several-month time period.  The actual amount was $262,000.

In February, she was arrested for first-degree grand theft.

She is confined at the St. Lucie County jail, where she was arrested this morning on the animal cruelty charges.

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