Thursday, June 21, 2018
Public safety

New Port Richey woman arrested on animal cruelty charges

LAND O'LAKES — Sasha the Rottweiler wagged her stump of a tail inside her kennel at the Pasco County Animal Services shelter on Friday.

She alternately nosed at hands through the door and sat back with her ears perked up.

When Pasco authorities found her a day before, she was lethargic and trembling. Mucus coated her eyes, and her nails were so long they crossed over one another — the horrific effects of having been abandoned for weeks without food or water.

A New Port Richey woman called the Sheriff's Office on Thursday morning saying she hadn't seen her neighbor in weeks. But she had heard dogs whining, and she called deputies after smelling something strange.

Two dogs were found dead inside the house at 7709 Atherton Ave. Four-year-old Sasha was alive, but just barely.

The dogs had been under the care of Michell Schratwieser, according to Pasco deputies' reports. Schratwieser, 48, was arrested Thursday night and charged with three counts of animal cruelty.

She was being held at the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $1,500 bail.

Deputies said the dogs were left alone in Schratwieser's closed-up home for at least a month without air conditioning, food or water. Schratwieser told deputies she had not checked on the dogs, who belonged to her ex-boyfriend, in several weeks.

She told authorities she couldn't care for the dogs and that when one of them died, she "got freaked out" and left. She had not returned since.

When Pasco County firefighters entered the house on Thursday, the smell and the number of flies forced them to wear air packs. They found Jessie, a Labrador-pit bull mix, and Jordan, a German shepherd mix, both dead in the house. It appeared that part of Jordan's face had been eaten.

Deputies found food bowls and empty food bags, in addition to feces, urine and fur in every room.

Outside the home, Sasha lapped up three large bowls of water. But chicken made her vomit, and maggots and fur came up with the food and water.

Several neighbors told authorities that Schratwieser had been caring for the dogs, but none of them had seen her for weeks — maybe months.

Despite the abandonment, Sasha's health could be much worse.

Sasha is being treated for hookworms and general care issues, said Pasco County Animal Services interim manager Kevin Mallory. There was still a little mucous ringing her eyes Friday, but her nails appeared to have been cut.

Her ribs still show.

Sasha is not up for adoption yet, and Mallory said he can't say for sure when she will be ready for a new home.

With her ears up and her bright eyes, though, she already looks it.

Clare Lennon can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6262. Twitter: @clarelennon.

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