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'Puppy Luv' Owner Facing Animal Cruelty Charges

By Chad Cookler for

SAFETY HARBOR, Fla – The owner of a Safety Harbor pet store is facing numerous counts of animal cruelty after deputies found his dogs in “extremely unclean” conditions, according to the Pinellas Sheriff’s Office.

Customers called police after finding the animals without food or water, deputies said.

When the customers entered the store, located at 2741 McMullen Booth Road, to look at the dogs, the door was unlocked and no employees were present, according to investigators.

When deputies came to the store just after 5 p.m they discovered at least one of the dogs covered in urine, deputies said. Another dog, a pit bull, was kept in an undersized pen.

A third animal appeared to have kennel cough. Poodles, pugs, basset hounds and terriers were among the 26 dogs being kept at the store.

Deputies contacted Nowakowski, who came to the store. He was arrested and charged with 26 counts of animal cruelty and one count of failing to register his business name.

He was taken by ambulance to Mease Countryside Hospital after he complained he was not feeling well.

The dogs were removed by Pinellas County Animal Services.

Monday, officers from Tarpon Springs responded to a 2nd location Nowakowski had just rented last Friday, according to investigators. Officers found 12 dogs at a store in the Olympic Plaza, 40176 US 19, and didn’t see any food or water in the pens.

The officers didn’t see any employees inside, so they had a maintenance worker open the door. Other than being thirsty and hungry, the dogs appeared to be in good condition.

Food was later found inside the store. The SPCA removed the dogs, and Nowakowski has now been charged with 12 additional counts of animal cruelty.

This isn’t the first time people have complained about the condition of the Safety Harbor store. Last July an employee at a neighboring salon said the stench from the animals was creeping into her business.

At the time Nowakowski denied that his dogs were mistreated.

“Basically, animal control has been in here 40 times and they’ve never issued a written warning on the smell or the conditions in the store,” he said at the time.

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