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Florida couple charged with cruelty after 300 animals found in their home

A southwest Florida couple was charged with animal cruelty and child abuse after police responding to a call about a missing child found 300 neglected animals in their home, NBC affiliate WESH reported.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Police booking photo of Jeffrey O'Neill

The animals, including snakes, lizards, rats and rabbits, were being held in 88 cages in deplorable conditions, authorities told WESH, and some were even found dead.

Jeffrey O'Neil and Jennifer Kovacs were breeding the animals and selling them without licensing out of Kovacs' mother's home in Oldsmar, Fla., officials said.

Pinellas County Sheriff authorities responded Sunday to a call from the couple about the disappearance of their 16-month-old daughter, WESH reported.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office

Police booking photo of Jennifer Kovacs

According to the TV station, the infant was found unharmed at a relative's home, where the relative took her after failing to awaken the allegedly intoxicated couple, authorities said.

Kovacs' mother, Joyce, told WTSP she is happy the animals have been hauled from her home. 

"You can't let the animals overtake you and basically that's what it is," Joyce Kovacs told WESH. "When you're not employed and you don't have the money to feed them it's just, you know, you don't know what to do."

The animals are now under the care of the SPCA Tampa Bay, which removed them from the home.

"I'm kind of devastated, you know. I guess I feel bad for Jennifer and Jeff that they're sitting in jail, and yet they brought this all on themselves," Joyce Kovacs told WTSP.

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