Tuesday, September 16, 2003
Carmel on the Case: Man Packs Array Of Live Animals Into Warehouse
Tonight - an update to a story that hit the airwaves back in June. Animals left alone in a warehouse -- suffering. Now -- the investigation as to who left them there ends with a surprising twist. Seven's Carmel Cafiero is On The Case.
(WSVN) -- This was the "scene" at a Hialeah warehouse at the beginning of the summer.
Screaming pigs, cats and dogs - even rabbits, chickens and hamsters -- all left alone in the heat - with no ventilation, dirty water and little to eat.
Sergeant Charlie Daye of Miami-Dade Police Department Animal Services says, "We got an anonymous call that someone was hoarding a large amount of animals inside a warehouse."
At the time Sergeant Daye didn't know who owned the animals.
"We're looking into that," he says in an earlier report.
But authorities know who is responsible now.
His name: Enrique Collantes, and this isn't his first brush with the law.
Back in '97, Collantes was charged with animal cruelty and sentenced to probation. "I die in this house to protect my dogs," he says in the '97 report. "I die in this house to protect my civil rights."
Collantes and a helper lived out of a car while dozens of chickens, cats, and dogs occupied his house.
When police told Collantes to release the animals, he let 76 dogs run wild in the street.
Most of them ended up being so sick that when they were caught they had to be put to sleep.
It's been six year since Enrique Collantes was first accused of animal cruelty. And now the suffering animals found in this warehouse have been tracked to him -- Authorities say he locked them here - when he got locked up for swindling a vet.
Collantes was convicted of conning the vet out of more than six thousand dollars.
Prosecuter Chiaka Ihekwaba says Collantes used the alias Eric Onassis -- a name he also uses on this website where he describes himself as a savior of animals.
"I hope he has learned his lesson," says Chiaka.
In May, Collantes was sentenced to more than two years in prison for grand theft.
When he went to jail, the animals in the warehouse were left alone.
"He was an irresponsible owner," says Daye. "He gave them a death sentence, is exactly what he is doing, by leaving them there and not providing proper care."
Police only made the connection to Collantes because they found this photo album at the scene.
Collantes claims he did pay someone to take care of the animals, but it doesn't look like that.
When the animals were finally found, many had to be euthanized.
"They had a lot of ranges of different diseases, they have skin conditions, they had respiratory conditions, almost every single one of the cats had an upper respiratory infection," says Daye.
But not all the animals are in bad health.
These two dogs are now up for adoption.
This pig has made himself at home at a local farm.
And this hamster and rabbit also found a new home. They're part of the Richmond Heights Middle School magnet program at Metro Zoo.
Dr. Suzanne Banas runs the Zoo Magnet program. "They have a big cage," she says. "They're outside, they have fresh water, good food, they get petted, so you know this is where they want to be."
If you have a story for Carmel or for more information, contact her at:
305-627-CLUE in Miami-Dade
954-921-CLUE in Broward