lmost every day, PETA receives reports about “rescue” and “sanctuary” operations that claim to “save” animals from euthanasia but instead severely neglect them—sometimes to death. Over and over, PETA has exposed cases in which sham rescues, like Caboodle Ranch and Angel’s Gate, prey on well-meaning people who have never actually visited the facility and have no idea what they’re funding.
Now, PETA has documented that at Darlynn’s Darlins Rescue Ranch, Inc. (DDRR), outside Polk City, Florida, pigs weren’t given anything to eat for up to five days at a time, and then, when they were, it was often nothing but rotten scraps of produce and moldy bread. Sick, injured, and dying animals were denied veterinary care. Malnourished dogs kept confined to kennels outdoors were deprived of water as temperatures approached 100 degrees. And the list goes on.
Based on PETA’s evidence of systemic neglect and unnecessary suffering at the facility, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) executed a warrant on August 4, 2016, and seized nearly 200 animals, rescuing them from utter misery. On August 9, 2016, officials charged DDRR operators Darlynn Czerner and Clinton Martin with a total of 282 counts of cruelty to animals, including six felonies. On September 6, 2016, a judge awarded custody of 193 animals to the Polk County Sheriff’s office. On March 9, 2018, Martin pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor cruelty charge and was sentenced to the more than six months behind bars that he served following his arrest. Czerner, who served more than three months in jail, signed a contract on March 12, 2018, agreeing to enter the Office of the State Attorney’s pre-trial intervention program and must undergo a mental-health evaluation and treatment and pay costs. Czerner and Martin are banned from owning any animals.
Spunky and BuddySpunky was emaciated, covered with sores, and unable to use his back legs. He was left languishing like that for months on end. When the largest of several lesions on his back grew to the size of an orange and became abscessed, Czerner and Martin spent an hour cutting into it and squeezing pus and blood out of it without any anesthetics, while he screamed and struggled to escape.
In the weeks that followed, Czerner squeezed the abscess again and again, tearing large swaths of skin off Spunky’s back and admitting as he screamed that “of course” it caused him pain.
Spunky spent several days penned up with Buddy, a listless, emaciated pig Czerner said she would take to the vet in early June. But time passed, and she didn’t do it. Buddy was left lying on his side—just standing up was a struggle for him. According to Martin, after suffering for “over two weeks,” Buddy was found dead. Spunky was by Buddy’s side on the last day of his miserable life.
Starved Pigs Deprived of Basic CareMartin routinely denied pigs feed for up to five days (even though it took just 30 minutes or so to feed them) and rejected numerous offers to help feed the animals. When they were finally fed, some got scraps of produce—much of it rotten—or bread that was often moldy. But they were denied hay and only rarely given pellet feed.
When food was provided, smaller, less assertive pigs couldn’t access it, as larger pigs dominated the few troughs available. The vertebrae, hips, and other bones protruded prominently under the skin of numerous emaciated pigs.
Even though some pigs’ hooves curled up and others’ tusks rubbed against their faces because they were so overgrown, no hoof or dental care—which are important to pigs’ health—was provided during PETA’s investigation.
With such a nutritionally deficient diet and lack of basic care, they didn’t stand a chance.
An Emaciated Steer, Desperately Thirsty Chickens and Dogs, and Dying CatsAs heat indices topped 100 degrees in the Florida summer, Isis, the couple’s emaciated steer, was repeatedly found without water. He often had little to eat besides a few wisps of hay on the ground, despite requests by a PETA eyewitness to give him more food.
Approximately 40 hens and roosters were found without water again and again. When water was provided by a PETA eyewitness, the chickens routinely drank for nearly 10 minutes.
Thin dogs were repeatedly found without water and drank voraciously whenever it was provided. After a dogfight occurred on the property, Martin offered to shoot the dog whose leg was injured and bleeding. No veterinary care was provided.
After a lethargic and unresponsive cat named Princess convulsed and died, Czerner admitted that she had so many animals, she was simply unable to care for them all. (She also kept several pigs in her bathroom and in a crate in her house.) She even admitted that she feared being jailed for neglect.
You Can Help Stop This Cruelty!
The Office of the State Attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit has joined the PCSO in taking swift, strong action in this case. Please thank State Attorney Jerry Hill for his support of the PCSO’s efforts and let him know that you strongly support his office’s action and criminal prosecution of this case.
Make sure you aren’t funding or backing a “slow-kill” nightmare for animals. Instead, support professionally run, open-admission shelters that provide animals with veterinary care and, when necessary, a painless and dignified end, instead of hoarding them and letting them suffer until they die on their own, in misery.