Clearwater, Florida - It's easy to fall in love with Sox, a fuzzy little Poodle-Yorkie mix. The little guy just warms your heart.
At first glance, you'd think the 9-month-old puppy is like any other little guy out there. He loves people, he scampers around. He's simply happy about life. But, there's a deeper story here.
When you hear all the details of what happened to Sox in the last month, it'll break your heart.
The SPCA says Sox was found locked in a residential bathroom in Clearwater with a rubber band cinched around his snout so tightly that it was digging into his flesh.
His mouth and jaw were bound shut for so long that, eventually, the rubber band cut through the bone and was growing in the roof of his mouth.
He was literally starving to death for weeks.
SPCA Humane Officer Jill Purl remembers that first day when she picked up Sox at his home.
"Tremendous amount of pain, " Jill says. "I mean, he could not have eaten properly. He never had band on outside, it was growing inside. There was a rubber band on the inside. There is a hole in his nose.
Out of hundreds of cases over the last nine years, she says this puppy endured what she calls horrible abuse.
Jill also says that the mother in the home didn't seem to care that Sox was dying. The puppy was covered in feces and fleas. The feces were embedded in his fur.
In fact, the mom claims she didn't know how the rubber band got there. It was her own children that turned her in, a boy and girl under the age of ten.
They told their teacher that the dog was dying in their bathroom. Jill says she gave the mom, whose identity has not been released, a chance to get the dog some help.
Jill then came back the next day and the dog was still starving.
"I'm very much concerned. When I picked up the dog, because of the infection that the dog had the smell was terrible, even outside the house. I never went inside the house," said Jill.
10 News has learned that misdemeanor charges of animal cruelty have been filed with the State Attorney's Office and this could turn into a felony.
Jill say she knew something was up when the single mother of four refused to let her inside the home.
It's the children, the SPCA maintains, that they're also worried about in this case.
The CEO of SPCA Tampa Bay, Martha Boden, tells us,"It's not uncommon if there's animal abuse that there's child or spousal abuse. So, we want to make sure that the social services that can support that are engaged."
The SPCA is calling Sox a miracle.
For now, the endearing puppy is enjoying life in a foster home before going up for adoption in a few weeks.
There is a possibility that DCF could get involved in this case in the future.
However, investigators do point out that the children in the case looked healthy and well cared-for upon visiting the home.