Florida veterinarian, husband arrested again on animal cruelty charges

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Lakeland veterinarian and her husband again for felony animal cruelty.

Dr. Gail Nichols, 66, and her husband Paul Smith, 74, each face an animal cruelty charge. Their latest arrest stems from a bad infection found in the back of a horse’s mouth under the couple’s care.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Smith on Wednesday and Nichols on Thursday.

In August, sheriff’s deputies arrested the couple on several charges of animal neglect. Deputies seized 28 miniature horses, two full-sized horses and eight dogs from the home. 

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Previous: 28 miniature horses among dozens of animals seized from Polk County veterinarian, husband

The couple intentionally confined the dogs in cages, and didn’t provide them water or basic care, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

The affidavit stated, “The residence emitted a very strong odor of ammonia, was infested with rats and had clutter piled to the ceiling with small pathways for walking.”

Nichols and Smith lived in separate travel trailers on the property, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit also stated three of the horses had hooves that were severely overgrown to the point they were spiraled upwards, causing the horses lameness. Those horses had to be put down.

A court order awarded the animals to the Polk County Sheriff’s Oiffce with the exception of two family dogs.

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