A Sarasota couple are facing animal cruelty charges after deputies say they tethered their dog to a utility trailer to die instead of taking it to a veterinarian.
Joseph Shepherd, 55, has been charged with abandoning an animal to die and a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty, according to the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. His girlfriend, Diana Harrelson, 62, was arrested Monday and charged with aggravated animal cruelty, abandoning an animal to die and a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty.
When deputies interviewed Harrelson, she admitted that it was in August 2016 when she last took Spunik to a veterinarian because she didn't have enough money to pay for euthanasia and wanted Spunik to die a natural death, according to a news release.
Shepherd, who suffers from medical conditions, was issued a written arrest with a summons to appear in court, according to sheriff’s office spokeswoman Kaitlyn R. Perez. Harrelson has been released from the Sarasota County jail on bonds totaling $2,120 bond.
Animal Services officers first learned of Spunik, a 14-year-old terrier mix, after a good Samaritan rescued the dog on June 5 from outside a home in the 4100 block of Walnut Avenue. The dog was emaciated, according to the sheriff’s office.
Spunik, who was deaf and blind, was in extreme distress, had matted fur and extreme dental decay, was covered in maggots and tied up with a cable tether without shelter, according to the release. Officers took the dog to a local veterinarian, where it had to be euthanized because of its poor condition.