A Crystal River woman is facing two counts of felony animal cruelty after three dogs were found in bad shape, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office said.
According to deputies, the investigation began when a 9-pound Shih Tzu was found wandering in a road. A good Samaritan held the dog to keep it safe until animal control officers arrived.
The dog was blind and severely underweight. Its hair was matted and dreadlocked, and it was caked in feces and urine. Live maggots were found living under the fur.
A 5-inch piece of wire was found in one of the dreadlocks on the dog.
Deputies said the vet said she'd never seen a case this bad.
Animal control officers went door-to-door until a neighbor recognized the dog. The neighbor showed the officers where the dog lived, but the owners were not home.
In the back yard, officers found two other dogs. One was paralyzed in her hind legs and unable to stand. The dog was also matted and blind.
The other dog showed signs of neglect, but officers believe it was not at the home as long as the other two.
The dogs' owner, Jo-Marie Richheimer, 45, told officers, "I didn't mean for them to get this bad."
The dogs are undergoing medical care.