SARASOTA, Fla. - The Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office arrested a couple for animal cruelty after they left their dog tethered to a utility trailer, emaciated and covered in maggots.
Joseph Shepherd, 55, is charged with abandoning an animal to die and animal cruelty.
Diana Harrelson, 62, is charged with aggravated animal cruelty and abandoning an animal to die. She also faces a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. Authorities released Harrelson on $2,120 bond.
A good Samaritan rescued a dog named Spunik on the 4100 block of Walnut Avenue on June 5, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office said Spunik was in extreme distress with matted fur and extreme dental decay. The 14-year-old terrier mix, who is both deaf and blind, was covered in maggots and attached to a cable tether without shelter. Animal Services Officers transported the dog to a veterinarian, who performed humane euthanasia to end the dog's suffering.
Authorities arrested Shepherd in the incident.
Deputies learned Harrelson, who is Shephard’s girlfriend, was aware of the dog’s condition. Harrelson moved to Mississippi months ago, according to the sheriff’s office.
Harrelson contacted Animal Services to retrieve another dog the couple owned named Bella, who was impounded due to excessive parasites and fleas. She admitted to deputies she didn’t have enough money to pay for euthanasia and wanted Spunik to die a natural death.
The last time Harrelson took Spunik to the veterinarian was in August 2016, according to the sheriff’s office.
Authorities arrested Harrelson on Monday.