Sarasota couple arrested for animal cruelty

Sarasota couple charged with animal cruelty after dog found with maggots

SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. -- Sarasota County Animal Services has dealt with many animal abuse cases but there’s a recent case deputies say rates among one of the worst they’ve seen. “If you look at the photos, it’s horrific,” says Lt. Daniel Tutko, Sarasota Sheriff’s Office.

So horrific, half of the photos we can’t show you. Sputnik, a 14-year-old terrier mix, had to be euthanized.

Tutko says, “When the person picked him up, found it lethargic, matted, filled with maggots infection in its eye, one eye was missing, foul smell from the dog…it was suffering.”

Tutko says a Good Samaritan found the dog tied with a cord around its collar to this trailer on Walnut Avenue.  “I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. To let a dog get in that state you can’t imagine why someone would let that happen.”

Tutko says the reason the owner gave for tethering the dog outside is upsetting. “She wanted to let it die a natural death and that natural death was full of pain and suffering should not have occurred,” says Tutko.

Deputies charged Joseph Shepherd and Diana Harrelson with animal cruelty. 

Shepherd says, “All we ever gave our dogs is love, it’s an unfortunate situation.”

Shepherd says they placed Sputnik outside for a few days after Shepherd returned from the hospital and couldn’t care for him.

“He was defecating on the floor, urination more than I can take of it at the time. The dog was fed, given water, the skin condition I had no knowledge of,” explains Shepherd.

“This shouldn’t happen. There are resources available, we’ll come over, we’ll take the dog,” says Lt. Tutko. He adds, “It’s an excruciatingly painful death he shouldn’t have had to endure.”

The sheriff’s office also took another dog from the home.  Tutko says Bella is a 10-year-old terrier mix and is fairly good shape suffering from some fleas and parasites. The Sarasota County Animal Services wants the couple to sign over ownership so it can put the dog up for adoption but Shepherd says they won’t give up their dog.

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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