LAKE COUNTY, Fla. - Lake County's Animal Services director has resigned in the face of alleged threats, and Channel 9 learned the resignation is connected to a cruelty investigation involving a herd of cattle.
The Sheriff's Office is investigating after reports of underweight cows along CR-44 near Eustis.
"They appeared to be malnourished and underfed," said Lt. John Herrell. "Appeared to be skinny. I believe in some of the photos you can see their ribs."
A passerby first reported the issue to Lake Animal Services in February. At the time, there was a herd of about 100 cattle.
Animal Services was waiting on a court order to seize the cows, but before that happened, officials said they were taken out of the pasture and moved across the county line.
"The cows were already loaded on the trailer when Animal Control decided to call us in and hand it off to us," said Herrell.
The controversy contributed to the resignation of Animal Services Director Marjie Boyd.
In a letter to county commissioners, Boyd referenced disturbing levels of harassment and numerous threatening emails from people angry her agency failed to rescue the cattle.
One message obtained by Channel 9 was authored after Boyd resigned and included the phrase "good riddance."
Detectives won't comment about the Marion County rancher who owned and relocated the cows.
Authorities said the ranchers' veterinarian insisted the cattle were in good condition considering their age.
A Sheriff's Office spokesman said once the investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the state attorney's office.