TAMPA. - It's hard to imagine that the lump of fur and skin laying in a bed at Hillsborough County Animal Services was actually someone's family pet.
But, according to Animal Services, the one-year-old golden lab mix named Bella lived with Jamall and Sharhonda Garrett in their Valrico home. The pair has now been charged with felony animal cruelty.
"Bella is a dog that had developed a condition called demodectic mange over a period of probably many, many months. This mange continued to get worse and developed into a secondary infection. The dog is severely underweight; very uncomfortable, very very painful," said Marti Ryan of Hillsborough County Animal Services.
Investigators say that Bella's wounds had festered, scabbed and melded the dog onto the carpet of the home's lanai.
"Just extremely difficult to manage for the officer, in our case from Animal Services, to address the situation, to remove her. We were very concerned about even transporting her and whether or not she would make it," recalled Ryan.
Roxy, a pit-bull mix, was rescued from a locked bathroom. Investigators say Jennifer Torres, who has also been charged with felony animal cruelty, was moving between residences when she left the dog alone and malnourished in her bathroom.
"This dog is probably twenty pounds or more underweight. The dog was living in its own waste, left inside a bathroom," Ryan said.
The common thread between the two unrelated cases is that Animal Services received tips from the public alerting them to the abuse.
"The Bella case as well as the Roxy case emanated as anonymous tips by citizens concerned for the welfare of a couple of animals in the community. And thank goodness they did the right thing. We were able to get to each of these dogs in time," explained Ryan.
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