Hillsborough Animal Control officers rescued a dog Tuesday morning that they found covered in mange, with open wounds that had festered, scabbed and melded the dog onto the carpet of the home's lanai.
The dog, a 1-year-old female lab Golden Lab mix named "Bella" is now being treated at Hillsborough County Animal Services, where officers say she is recovering, but has a long way to go.
"She is in a severe amount of pain, and they knew this," said Sgt. Pam Perry, with Hillsborough Animal Services.
Perry is referring to 42-year-old Jamell Garrett and his wife, 32-year-old Sharhonda Garrett. Deputies arrested them and charged them with felony animal cruelty.
Perry estimated the dog had been neglected for anywhere from four to six months.
"This dog didn't get this way overnight," Perry said.
They say they got an anonymous tip from a concerned citizen about the immobilized animal.
"She was stuck in an adhesive manner to a piece of carpet," said Marti Ryan, with Hillsborough Animal Services. "She's very weak, she's on a variety of medications, but she's in a better place now."
Only remnants of Bella's golden coat remain.
"Her body is depleted, she only weighs 34.6 pounds, for a 1-year-old female lab Golden Lab mix, she should probably be 50 to 55 pounds," Perry said.
Bella's remaining skin is scabbed and irritated from severe neglect and malnourishment.
Deputies seized Bella Tuesday morning on Brickyard Court in Valrico. They also confiscated a black and white female cat, barely a year old they estimate, which was a lot better off than the dog.
"We also took into custody the pet cat, because we're not going to leave another animal there, at risk, to suffer the same sort of fate," Ryan said.
The dog had been unable to move for some time, and even worse, was in plain view. Bella was visible through the sliding glass doors, while her owners ate dinner every night.
"You see her, in the patio area, fading away," Perry described. "Her skin was crawling, and just constant itching, pain, swelling, her limbs are swollen."
Sergeant Perry said the owners had tried some home remedies to help the dog, but gave up.
Animal services is grateful somebody finally spoke up.
"This is what we ask people to do, if you see something, hear something, be our eyes and ears. The animal can't pick up the phone, it always depends on us," Ryan said.
If convicted, the Garretts face up to five years in prison. Right now, Animal Services hopes to find foster homes for both pets, and eventually, permanent, loving homes.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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