When police raided a Davie trailer home, they expected to find hundreds of grams of cocaine and fentanyl. It was the hoard of dogs — malnourished and living in squalor— that left them befuddled.
The pungent odor of feces was so bad that officers gagged when entering the home. A witness even described the smell like that of a dead body. It was coming from the dogs that police say were boxed up in stacked crates.
Now, Sean Christopher Brodnax faces a slew of drug and animal cruelty charges, according to court records. The 30-year-old Davie man, accused of almost 200 felony and misdemeanor offenses, has remained behind bars since his Sept. 13 arrest.
In June, investigators with Davie police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms started eyeing Brodnax in a narcotics and money laundering probe, according to court records. An undercover ATF officer hit up Brodnax for drugs two separate times — once in July and then again in August.
When officers searched the home a month later, they uncovered fentanyl pills and a kilo of cocaine mixed with fentanyl tucked inside a vent, according to court records. There was cocaine sprinkled on the floor and guns littered all over the house — including some in a green rifle bag that a neighbor said Brodnax asked him to store in case Child Protective Services paid him a visit.
The living room, however, housed the source of the stench: A puppy mill, where at least 25 French Bulldog-Pit Bull mixes were trapped behind bars for most of their lives, according to police.
There were dogs of all ages around the home, according to court records. A litter of puppies were kept in an open but filthy enclosure. Several full-grown dogs were confined in crates no larger than two feet. A tan Bulldog mix with visible medical issues was immobile in the bedroom.
The cages, police say, didn’t have any bedding. Defecation was smeared all over them. The dogs had to sit in their own urine because they couldn’t move. It was sweltering — and none had food nor water.
Sean Brodnax faces nearly 200 charges for drugs, guns, and animal abuse. Cops raided his Davie home last week and found dogs in deplorable conditions. @WPLGLocal10 https://t.co/F7BER7tDGt
- @browardsheriff pic.twitter.com/RcX97G6SpF
— Ian Margol (@IanMargolWPLG) September 21, 2023
Many were in extreme distress, according to police. Their condition was so bad that Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony on Tuesday asked the court to ban Brodnax and Danielle Palladino, who also lives at the home but hasn’t been criminally charged, from ever owning animals again.
The couple, who police allege were running an unlicensed breeding business, advertised their puppies on their Instagram account “Paws to Riches.”
According to court records, an English Bully mix was “in clear distress with explosive diarrhea and extreme trouble breathing, possibly on the verge of a heat stroke.”
“None of the dogs were able to walk on their own for more than a few feet,” court records say. “The dogs did not appear to be accustomed to being on leashes or to life outside the confinement of their cages.”
Pattern of neglect?
It wasn’t the first time police had uncovered evidence of animal neglect at the trailer home, according to court records. In 2017, Davie police responded to the home after someone called in a tip.
When officials arrived, they located a malnourished dog in a soiled crate without food or water. The dog was so skinny that its ribs and hips protruded.
Palladino, who let officers inside, told them she wasn’t living at there at the time due to mold problems and renovation. Police asked Palladino to take the dog out of the crate, and it drank water for 10 minutes without stopping, according to a report.
The dog, Palladino told police, was thin because it didn’t want to eat after it was poisoned by a neighbor. She was charged with a misdemeanor, though it was dropped after she completed the “Misdemeanor Diversion Program” in 2019.
In June, police were again called to the home after a woman interested in purchasing a puppy said she was concerned about the conditions in which the dogs were kept.
Court records didn’t provide any additional information about the June incident.
Brodnax remains locked up at the Joseph V. Conte Facility in Pompano Beach, pending a bond of more than $130,000.