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Woman accused of hoarding pets pleads with judge to release her from jail

Dozens of dead, sick animals found in Linda Giaccio's home, police say

MIAMI – A woman accused of hoarding pets at her home in Lighthouse Point appeared in court Tuesday, pleading with a judge to release her from jail.

"I would never hurt an animal," Linda Giaccio said.

Giaccio spoke out in court against her attorney's advice and begged for her freedom.

She is charged with 71 counts of animal cruelty after her Lighthouse Point home was raided in September. 

Dozens of dead or sick dogs and cats were found at the home, which was filthy, authorities said.

"My whole existence was to save the ones that were starving, and the ones that people dumped on my lawn. I took them to the doctor," Giaccio said.

The self-proclaimed animal lover had bonded out of jail in September, but authorities recently decided to add 66 new animal cruelty counts related to the raid -- one for each animal.

"What she's done is she's had contact with the victims in her case," assistant state attorney Gina Messina said.

The State Attorney's Office showed the court a photo of Giaccio holding a cat while out on bond, violating her court order to stay away from all animals. 

Giaccio insists that she loves the cats, but did not mention why many were found dead or sick. 

"I swear on my mother’s grave, I only had good intentions to help those animals," she said.

Giaccio remains in jail on a $35,000 bond.