Drug investigation at Davie trailer finds puppy mill with 25 animals in ‘extreme distress’

A drug investigation at a Davie trailer led police to find what they said was an “unsanitary and illegal puppy mill,” where numerous puppies and adult dogs were found crowded in stacked cages, lying or standing in their own waste and hardly able to walk.

Sean Brodnax, 30, was arrested on Sept. 13 while Danielle Palladino, 29, was arrested Thursday. Dave Police Det. Peter Patton confirmed Friday afternoon that Palladino was arrested in relation to Brodnax’s case, but their relationship was not immediately clear.

A complaint in the civil animal cruelty case that names Brodnax and Palladino said they both lived at the Davie address and that law enforcement or animal control had been there before for allegations of animal abuse.

The narcotics-related investigation of Brodnax began in June by the Broward Sheriff’s Office Gang Investigations Task Force, according to a probable cause affidavit. Detectives between January and the start of the investigation in June learned from different sources that Brodnax was allegedly distributing drugs.

In July, an undercover Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent met up with Brodnax at a veterinary clinic to purchase $80 worth of marijuana. The next undercover buy at another location weeks later was for 50 pressed fentanyl pills for $700, the affidavit said.

The Gang Investigations Task Force and Davie Police Special Response Team executed a search warrant at Brodnax’s home in the 400 block of Southwest 132nd Avenue on Sept. 13, and Brodnax was arrested in the front yard of a neighbor’s home, the affidavit said.

As authorities took Brodnax into custody, he threw his cell phone under a nearby trailer. Detectives called it in order to find it. The neighbor whose yard Brodnax was arrested in told police Brodnax said he needed to store things at the home because child protective services may be coming, the affidavit said.

Detectives searched the bag Brodnax brought to his neighbor’s home and found multiple guns. Inside Brodnax’s home, they found a pistol, a shotgun, a rifle, ammunition, hundreds of grams of marijuana and cocaine-fentanyl mixtures, scales, plastic bags and over $9,000 in cash, according to the affidavit.

Multiple young children lived at the home, the affidavit said. When detectives entered the trailer to conduct the search, they were overcome with the smell of feces, so much so that they were gagging, according to the 88-page complaint in the civil action against Brodnax and Palladino.

A woman who purchased a puppy from them in June said “the house smelled like a ‘dead body,’” the complaint said.

Detectives found a trafficking amount of fentanyl pills and approximately a kilogram of powder of a cocaine-fentanyl mix “in a hidden underground spider hole” inside of a vent, the complaint said. Marijuana and powder cocaine were found on the floor in the living room.

“The officers also found, next to the cocaine powder on the living room floor, the rather obvious source of the stench,” the complaint said.

The small living room was filled with cages, some stacked on top of each other, of about 25 French bulldog-pitbull mixes. An enclosure in the living room held a litter of puppies, the complaint said. Davie Animal Control and other officers noted that some of the dogs were in “extreme distress,” including some possibly nearly suffering from heat stroke.

Most dogs had no food or water. Many adult dogs were in cages too small for them to move or turn around that had no bedding and were covered in feces while other enclosures were full of urine, the complaint said.

“The floor of the cages themselves made these enclosures unsuitable, cruel and unfit for habitation of dogs,” the complaint said. “The small bare metal floors made it difficult for the dogs to walk or move around in these cages.”

Authorities found materials consistent with dog breeding and unlicensed at-home veterinarian care. They found papers advertising their business, “Paws to Riches,” according to the complaint.

“None of the dogs were able to walk on their own for more than a few feet and had to be carried out to transport trucks,” the complaint said. “The dogs did not appear to be accustomed to being on leashes or to life outside the confinement of their cages.”

Brodnax was held in the Joseph V. Conte Facility as of Friday afternoon on at least 27 felony charges and 75 misdemeanor charges related to animal cruelty in addition to eight felony charges stemming from the drug investigation, court records show.

Palladino was held in the Main Jail on at least 26 felony charges and 75 misdemeanor charges related to animal cruelty, according to court records.

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