Animal rescue owners feel catfished, devastated after large neglect investigation in Hollister

Lauren Martinez Image
Tuesday, March 12, 2024
Pet owners devastated after large neglect investigation in Hollister
Police have a revised count of animals recovered from a large neglect investigation at Pet-A-Palooza Rescue in Hollister, as pet owners react.

HOLLISTER, Calif. (KGO) -- Police are providing an update on what they're calling the largest animal neglect case within the city of Hollister in San Benito County.

Alyssa Bautista is the Animal Care & Services Supervisor of the Hollister Police Department.

"So I have been here for five years and this is the largest scale animal cruelty case I have seen throughout my career here," Bautista said.

Now with a revised count - police say 13 dogs, 65 live cats and 31 deceased cats were recovered from inside this home.

Over the weekend, two more cats were trapped and recovered.

Bautista described what it was like to enter the home with a hazmat suit.

RELATED: Animals living in deplorable conditions inside rescue organization saved in Hollister

Hollister police rescued cats and dogs from inside a local animal rescue shelter after living in deplorable conditions without food or water.

"Just a strong odor emanating throughout the house that is just not safe for us to be breathing in as well as for the animals too it's not safe to be ingesting that it could cause or expose them to diseases that could otherwise be prevented," Bautista said.

As if conditions weren't disturbing enough - police say the two suspects arrested are founders of their own animal rescue organization.

They ran SBC Pet-A-Palooza Rescue Inc. and police say they were well known in the rescue community.

Gilroy resident Liz Garcia said her family adopted their cat Kylo in 2022 from the organization when it partnered with a local pet store.

Months later Kylo needed extensive surgery to repair a broken pelvis that healed incorrectly.

"It's kind of starting to come together as far as to why this had happened to him and it was just devastating to even think of what all these other poor animals had gone through and what they had experienced," Garcia said.

Julie Nguyen also adopted her dog Kubo from Pet-A-Palooza in 2022.

Nguyen said Kubo seemed sad and scared.

She says she was reassured Kubo was great with other dogs.

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Marley, a 10-month-old German Shepherd mix, is recovering from major injuries after being shot through the snout in a San Jose neighborhood.

"Told us he was great with kids and I work at a vet clinic so she told us he was great with other dogs and pretty much playing it really up," Nguyen said.

Nguyen said it wasn't long until she realized Kubo was not great around other dogs and very timid.

"It took him at least six months to willingly get out of his crate- he'll go potty outside and run right back," Nguyen said.

Looking back, Nguyen wished she asked more questions.

"I don't know I feel almost catfished from her," Nguyen said.

After nearly a year of training and trying to get Kubo out of his shell, Nguyen surrendered Kubo back to Pet-A-Palooza two weeks ago thinking he would be better there.

"I thought it was something that I did. Does he not like our family, does he not like being around my kids, so I thought it was us," Nguyen said.

After she surrendered Kubo Nguyen said she got a text from one of the founders of Pet-A-Palooza that Kubo was getting along fine with one of her other dogs.

When the news came out that Pet-A-Palooza was at the center of a large animal neglect investigation - Nguyen said she broke down.

MORE: San Jose man who tortured, killed at least 21 cats released a month early into supervised program

"When I found out I felt so guilty, like it was my fault, like you know I put him in this situation," Nguyen said.

Police said shelters and rescue groups from Monterey to Walnut Creek have taken in the animals.

Nguyen hopes someone will see this story and let her know how 7-year-old, German Shepherd Kubo is doing.

"Just to get the word out I just want to know if he's ok what we can do help. He's a loving boy, but he's afraid of the world and now I know why," Nguyen said.

On Sunday Hollister Police shared a post on their Facebook page thanking the community for all the food donations they received for the displaced animals.

"We are so thankful for the generosity of our amazing community!"

Alyssa Bautista at Animal Care & Services wants to encourage members of the community no matter is too small to report.

"Even if you consider something the smallest thing, it could snowball into something of this magnitude and it does need to be reported to the proper authorities in order to be investigated completely," Bautista said.

The San Benito County District Attorney's Office is waiting for the complete report before information of arraignment is released.

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