BROOKSVILLE — The puppy had seen more than its share of misery in its 9 months.
Alerted by an anonymous tip, Hernando County Animal Services officers went to a home on Wilhelm Road and reportedly found the boxer-mix dog chained to a fence.
His condition was so bad it "brought tears to the eyes of everyone present,'' an animal rescue group said later.
A veterinarian to whom the dog was taken diagnosed hereditary mange, malnutrition, dehydration, underweight by 20 pounds from a normal breed age of 60 pounds, heart murmur due to the mange, anemia, fleas, ear infection with secondary infection and a broken tail.
"We get mistreatment cases all the time," said Animal Services manager Liana Teague, "but not so much of this severity."
The dog's owner, Sherry Seems, was advised by an Animal Services officer she must take the dog, named Bull, to a veterinarian for care. Seems later told animal services that she could not afford the necessary care and treatments, so she turned the dog over to the agency.
Seems, who owns another dog that investigators said appears to be in good condition, faces a $500 fine for animal neglect. She did not return calls seeking comment.
Teague said her department didn't have the funds to provide the necessary veterinary care, either. It appeared that Bull would be euthanized.
But after hearing about Bull's plight on a report on WTSP-Ch. 10 last week, the Suncoast Animal League in Palm Harbor stepped in.
"This is one of the most severe cases I've ever seen," said 25-year veteran animal rescuer Rick Chaboudy, executive director of the Suncoast Animal League.
A news release from the organization described the puppy's condition as "shocking,'' adding, "Before being placed in the league's van, the initial sight of the poor pup brought tears to the eyes of everyone present."
The league brought the pup to Tarpon Animal Hospital in Tarpon Springs, where he was diagnosed and tended to by veterinarian Tom Callahan and veterinary technician Jacki Jensen.
"He's still in the animal hospital," Chaboudy said Thursday. "At this time, I would consider him out of the woods. But for the last five or six months, this dog had to be in misery."
The puppy, which has been renamed Brooks, is gaining fans on the league's Facebook page.
Some people have questioned whether it is in the dog's best interest to put him through all of the medical treatments.
"With all that is wrong with the puppy, we sometimes wonder if it is fair to put him through all he will have to endure in the near future, considering all he has already endured," the league said in a statement.
"But one look into his eyes and it was clear that he was not ready to die. Therefore, if he is willing to fight, then we, Suncoast Animal League, will continue the fight for him."
Then there is the question of veterinary costs, already an estimated $1,400. The group is seeking donations to help cover the costs.
When he recovers, Brooks will be available for adoption at the standard fee of $55 from the no-kill shelter at 1030 Pennsylvania Ave., Palm Harbor.
Beth Gray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.