The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office said 28-year-old Jeffrey O'Neil and 26-year-old Jennifer Kovacs were reportedly caring for the child at their home on Lee Street. The couple told deputies the girl crawled out of her crib, opened the front door, and was missing for at least an hour.
When deputies arrived, they say they found about 298 snakes, lizards, rats, mice, birds, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, squirrels, gerbils, and hedgehogs inside the residence. They also found O'Neil and Kovacs under the influence of alcohol.
The child was found in good condition at a relative's home and is being properly cared for, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Deputies say the relative left a note saying they had taken the child to their home because she was crying, and they couldn't wake O'Neil.
Deputies say the animals were being bred and sold without proper licensing under deplorable conditions. Three rats and a hamster were found dead and half eaten by other animals in the house. Officials are also trying to locate and remove a lizard that burrowed itself in the backyard.
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