DUNEDIN — Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies went to a residence in Dunedin about 7:19 p.m. April 24 for a follow-up welfare check on a 67-year-old woman. They ended up arresting her caretaker for abuse and neglect. The caretaker also was charged with cruelty to animals.
Deputies say they could smell rotting trash and animal feces as they walked up the driveway to the home. They say the odor was so bad they had to don masks. A path through the trash had to be cleared before deputies could get to the woman’s bedroom.
Deputies say the home had no working toilets and all were overflowing with feces. The only working sink in the home was in a bedroom where her caretaker was staying on the other side of the house.
Deputies found no food or water inside the home for the woman or the 10 dogs and five large birds also living inside. Rats were running around the home, along with cockroaches, ants, spiders, flies and mosquitos. Deputies also saw black-colored mold.
The dogs found inside were skinny and deputies described some as being emaciated. Two puppies were inside a plastic bin that deputies say was filled with feces. Five large macaw birds were found loose inside the home.
The unidentified woman was transported to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Deputies notified the state Elderly Abuse Hotline. Pinellas County Animal Services took custody of the animals and transported them to shelters.
The woman’s caretaker, Richard Lawrence Goodwin, 65, was arrested about 9 p.m. and booked into the county jail. He was charged with one count of abuse/neglect of the aged/disabled and two counts of cruelty to animals. Bail was set at $20,000. He was released on surety bond about 5 p.m. April 25.
Deputies say Goodwin was arrested for one count of abuse/neglect of the aged/disabled on May 6, 2018 in connection with the same victim.