ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County Animal Services took in nearly 40 dogs from an east Orange County rescue group Thursday.
The animals were moved from a home on Econlockhatchee Trail in east Orlando by Lake Underhill Road.
WFTV learned the owner, Jorge Valez, wasn't supposed to be operating the rescue on the property in the first place.
Valez said he helps operate a rescue called Faith, Hope and Love with his girlfriend in the house.
"Did you mistreat these animals?" asked Channel 9's Racquel Asa.
"No, absolutely not. No. Do I look like I would mistreat them?" Valez said.
Valez said he took in animals, fed them on a regular basis and cared for them.
WFTV checked with the IRS and the group has a valid nonprofit status.
The property owner of the home said Valez wasn't allowed to run the rescue business out of the home.
Last May, he started the eviction process for the tenants.
Animal Services said the rescue didn't have a kennel license with code enforcement to have as many dogs as it did on the property.
"Are you struggling as a rescue group?" Asa said.
"As a rescue group, you always struggle," Valez said.
In an email WFTV obtained from a fellow rescue group, Faith, Hope and Love was looking for help and a new place to house the dogs because the owner had suffered a stroke.
"I'm just working with them and pulling everyone together and we're going to get these guys back out here," Valez said.
"So do you plan to fight this?" Asa said.
"Oh, absolutely," Valez said.
Animals Services is weighing and checking every one of the animals impounded Thursday and said the owner was allowed to keep three dogs.