HERNANDO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – An observant Hernando County Animal Enforcement officer helped save the lives of 11 abused and neglected dogs found living in horrible conditions at a Garden Grove home.
Officer Mandy Rowe was leaving a residence in the Garden Grove community on January 4, when she spotted dogs that were tethered to a tree in the yard of a home on Nicholas Avenue.
Rowe and Deputy Steven George stopped to check on the dogs and saw at least three dogs on the side of a mobile home that were tethered. One of the dogs appeared to be in distress, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
They went to the door to see if someone was home. Near the front door they saw a small wire cage with three Chihuahuas inside. The water bowl was dry and contained only dirt and it appeared that someone had dumped food into the cage haphazardly from the top.
They saw another small wire cage near the front door with a dog in it that appeared to be a Pitbull. There was no water in the cage and the dog was lying in its own urine and feces, according to the sheriff’s office.
Deputy George knocked on the door and Tabitha Gordon answered. According to the sheriff’s office, Gordon said the dogs belong to her mother-in-law. Gordon said her husband, Joshua Tharpe, helped to care for the dogs, but he was not at home. Gordon gave George and Rowe permission to walk around the property to check on the dogs.
George and Rowe walked on the property and found a dog that appeared to be in distress. The dog, whose name turned out to be “Bella,” was huddled on the ground, lying on shards of glass. The dog appeared to be malnourished and lethargic and in very poor condition. Her ribs and shoulder blades were showing. Her left eye was swollen and had a green and yellow discharge coming from it. She did not move and appeared to have trouble lifting her head. There was no food or water for the dog, according to the sheriff’s office.
Two other dogs were discovered tethered outside without food or water.
All of the dogs appeared to be infested with fleas and covered in flies. The sheriff’s office said there was garbage and the odor of rotting food, urine, and feces all over the property.
Officer Rowe determined that all the animals were being mistreated and believed that one dog was close to death and needed immediate medical attention. 11 dogs were seized and taken to Hernando County Animal Services.
Dr. Julie Rosenberger, who is the Veterinarian at Hernando County Animal Services, said the dog named Bella weighed 33 pounds and should have weighed about 45 pounds. She said the dog was malnourished and extremely anemic from blood loss, due to thousands of fleas that she was infested with.
Bella’s body temperature was so low she required a heating pad to keep her alive. Her body condition on a scale of 1-9 was a “2” at intake. A score of “1” is considered the worst, where death is immediate.
Dr. Rosenberger said that Bella would have been dead within three days, had she not received emergency medical treatment when she did.
Tabitha Gordon, Tiny Tharpe, and Joshua Tharpe were arrested by Hernando County Sheriff’s Office deputies on animal cruelty charges.
All of the dogs remain at Hernando County Animal Services.
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