A Pinellas County man was charged with cruelty to animals Saturday after deputies said his aging German shepherd mix was in such "deplorable" condition it had to be euthanized.
Deputies were called after the dog, Rocky, was found emaciated and covered in fleas while wandering the Caroline Trailer Court complex at 6418 Haines Road on Saturday morning.
They traced the dog back to its owner, Jason L. Aldridge, 38, who said he hadn't noticed that the 17-year-old animal was missing.
Aldridge had been feeding Rocky from a plastic bag of food that was infested with bugs, deputies said. The dog's bed and sleeping area were covered in urine and feces, and its food and water bowls were empty. Rocky's hair was thin, and a large tumor, several inches wide, hung between the dog's legs.
Aldridge told deputies the dog's health had been deteriorating but that he hadn't taken Rocky to a veterinarian because he didn't have the money. Pinellas County Animal Services removed the dog from the home, but its condition was so bad that the animal had to be euthanized that afternoon.
Aldridge was charged with felony cruelty to animals and booked into the Pinellas County Jail. He was released Saturday afternoon on $5,000 bail.
Pinellas County Animal Services spokesman Doug Brightwell said the dog was taken to a veterinarian in 2012. At that time, the dog was "a little on the thin side," he said, at 65 pounds.
On Saturday, Rocky weighed 47 pounds.
Claire Wiseman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.
This story has been changed to reflect the following correction: Pinellas County Animal Services had not previously encountered the ill and malnourished dog that had to be euthanized this past weekend. The agency provided information about the dog's health in 2012 that was gleaned from a visit to a veterinarian's office. A story Tuesday was incorrect on the source of that information.