BROOKSVILLE (FOX 13) -
Covered in his own blood and exhausted, the poodle arrived at Hernando County Animal Services without a name, but with deadly instructions.
"The former owner requested in a written statement that the animal be euthanized," said veterinarian Dr. Julie Rosenberger.
Deputies found 47 dogs in Naoma Britten's home. They say most were caked in feces and scalded from urine.
But to doctors charged with nursing them all back to health, it's unclear why Britten wanted the poodle to to die.
"A person made that animal that way. I'm not just going to euthanize him," said Rosenberger. "We have to see if he still has that will to live, and he does."
In hindsight, Britten's home signaled something was wrong. Decals said things like "crazy dog lady" and "beware of owner." Neighbors say the barking, from four-dozen dogs, would wake them up at night.
"I just asked her, can she keep the dogs from barking all the time?" said neighbor Jessica Taylor.
Neighbors say she never followed through on promises to offer dogs up for adoption.
"I asked her for a dog, she wouldn't let me go in her house or near her house, and that was it," Taylor said.
Deputies say this is likely a case of someone who slowly became overwhelmed. They found a stack of nine crates, each stuffed with filthy dogs that were too big for them.
There was no drinking water, either.
"She is stating she is a rescue; however, I don't know how legitimate that is," said Denise Moloney, the public information officer for the Hernando Co. Sheriff's Office.
Britten signed over control of 21 animals, and has a week to find homes for the other 26.
Doctors say the ultimate payback would be nursing the unnamed poodle back to health.
"I see myself as their advocate, their voice," Dr. Rosenberger said.
The vet does not expect to put any of the dogs down, though in a week she will have a better idea of how many will be adoptable. Deputies will determine charges or citations once they examine all the animals.
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