A Sarasota couple was given a notice to appear and charged with Animal Cruelty after they left their dog tethered to a utility trailer, emaciated and covered in maggots.
Animal Services Officers were first made aware of the emaciated dog living at 4118 Walnut Avenue on June 5, when a Good Samaritan rescued the animal.
The dog was in extreme distress with matted fur and extreme dental decay. The 14-year-old terrier mix, named 'Spunik', who is both deaf and blind, was covered in maggots and attached to a cable tether without shelter.
Animal Services Officers transported the dog to a veterinarian who performed humane euthanasia to end the dog's suffering.
Deputies charged the homeowner, 55-year-old Joseph Shepherd, with Abandoning an Animal to Die and a violation of the Sarasota County Ordinance, Animal Cruelty, a misdemeanor.
Through continued investigation, deputies learned Shepherd's girlfriend Diana Harrelson, 62, was aware of the dog's condition but moved to Mississippi in the months prior. On June 7, Harrelson contacted Animal Services in order to retrieve another dog the couple owned named 'Bella', who was impounded due to excessive parasites and fleas.
During interviews with deputies, Harrelson admitted the last time she took Spunik to a veterinarian was in August 2016. Harrelson claimed she didn't have enough money to pay for euthanasia and wanted Spunik to die a natural death.
Harrelson was given a notice to appear Monday and charged with Aggravated Animal Cruelty, Abandoning an Animal to Die and a violation of the Sarasota County Ordinance, Animal Cruelty, a misdemeanor. She was released on a $2,120 bond.
Bella remains in the custody of the Sarasota County Animal Services Section and will more than likely be transferred to a rescue facility at a later date.