NEW PORT RICHEY — Their faces were sunken. The dogs' ribs pressed against their taut stomachs. Three of the four animals were locked in a cage.
All appeared to be starved and dehydrated, the New Port Richey Police Department said. Their home was abandoned. The power was off.
Neighbors complained about the smell. The inside was stifling hot. Feces and urine covered the floor.
Then New Port Richey Officer Dan Durivou watched Saturday as one of the dogs died right before his eyes.
"It looked to me like a skeleton with skin on it," the officer wrote in his report.
Officers caught up with the dogs' owner, Carrie Michelle Posey-Feddersen, later that night. They arrested her on one felony count of cruelty to animals involving death and three misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.
Nicknamed "Kitty," her listed occupation is "dancer" at a club named Silk Stalkings.
The 26-year-old mother of two is accused of abandoning the dogs and leaving them trapped without the most basic needs: food, water and air-conditioning.
Durivou, a veteran officer, was left shaken by what he saw that night, according to Sgt. William Barrus.
"The officer was very upset," Barrus said Sunday. "He takes these kinds of cases personally.
"The dogs didn't deserve anything like this."
The landlord summoned police to 7030 Oelsner St. about 7 p.m. Saturday to investigate a report of abandoned animals at the duplex, a New Port Richey police report said.
A neighbor told officers that Posey-Feddersen and her two children hadn't been seen since the power was cut off May 14. Then Durivou went inside.
"It was obvious the dogs had not been cared for in several weeks," the officer wrote in the report.
A Rottweiler roamed free. But three small dogs were locked in a cage. The landlord had told police one of the dogs was already dead, but Durivou wrote that the animal appeared to die when he entered the home.
The dog was too far gone for help, police said.
"(Durivou) couldn't understand how the dog was even alive when they arrived," Barrus said. "It was in very bad shape."
The power was restored that night. Neighbors later called police to tell them Posey-Feddersen had returned home.
She had put her 5-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl to sleep in the feces-filled house, police said, but told officers she was starting to clean up.
And the dead dog? She had set its remains out front, police said, and told officers she was going to bury it in the yard.
"She was crying and stating she had done nothing wrong," Barrus said.
Posey-Feddersen was placed under arrest at 11:27 p.m. She declined to talk after being read her rights. She remained in the county jail Sunday, held in lieu of $5,450 bail.
Officers would not let the children remain in the house. Posey-Feddersen agreed to let a neighbor watch them.
New Port Richey police said they reported the situation to child welfare authorities, but they had to leave the dogs in the home.
Last month, SPCA Suncoast canceled its animal control contract with New Port Richey, saying the city needs to pay more to cover the true costs of caring for stray and abused animals. So the city manager recommended contracting with Pasco County Animal Services instead.
But no deal has been struck. That has left the city with no animal control.
After power was restored, the officers turned on the air-conditioning and left plenty of food and water for the surviving dogs, Barrus said.
Officers will be checking on the animals throughout the long holiday weekend. They hope to come up with a solution by Tuesday.
"We're going to make sure we'll follow up," the sergeant said, "and we can get someone to help us with these dogs."
Jamal Thalji can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6236.