LARGO — The previous owner of a 9-month-old puppy who had a rubber band wrapped tightly around his snout for days pleaded not guilty in her first court appearance Monday.
Tieesha Cogdell, 32, of Clearwater, faces a charge of first-degree misdemeanor animal cruelty in an abuse case that has drawn widespread outrage across the Tampa Bay area.
A pretrial hearing was set for March 26.
Sox, a Yorkshire terrier/poodle mix, was taken from Cogdell's home Dec. 13 after investigators with SPCA Tampa Bay found his mouth clamped shut. The rubber band kept him from eating and ripped through the skin and muscle around his muzzle. It bore a large hole through the top of his snout, where the constant pressure ate away at weaker bones.
When an investigator pointed out the rubber band around Sox's muzzle to Cogdell, she seemed unconcerned, according to the SPCA. Cogdell said she would seek out a veterinarian, but never did.
Sox, now almost a year old, has mostly recovered from his wounds. He still has scarring around his muzzle and a small hole on the top of his snout. He can blow air through it.
Sox was adopted Feb. 10 to a Largo home — the same day Cogdell was charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.