Tampa man arrested on animal cruelty charge

TAMPA — The owner of two abandoned dogs was arrested Friday, months after Hillsborough County Animal Services discovered the distressed animals.

Chandler Congo, 24, of Tampa, was charged with cruelty to animals, marijuana possession, fleeing police and obstructing or opposing an officer with violence, jail records show.

A neighbor of Congo's mother called Animal Services in January to report the abandoned animals. Investigators found an aggressive mastiff named Rufio guarding an emaciated mastiff named Nala, said Marti Ryan, a spokeswoman for Animal Services.

"She couldn't stand and was half the weight she was supposed to be," Ryan explained. Animal Services took possession of the dogs after tranquilizing Rufio and found out the Hills­borough Sheriff's Office was also searching for Congo after he took off during a traffic stop in which authorities spotted marijuana on his car seat. Investigators also seized pit bulls at Congo's girlfriend's mother's house after those animals were discovered to be malnourished.

Rufio proved too violent and unpredictable and had to be euthanized, Ryan said. Nala was assigned a foster parent who has nursed the gentle animal back to a healthy weight, though she is still suffering from heartworms, Ryan explained.

"Everyone is happy that the person who did this to these animals is finally in custody," Ryan said.

Congo was being held in a Hills­borough County jail in lieu of $10,500 bail.

Tampa man arrested on animal cruelty charge 06/17/11 [Last modified: Friday, June 17, 2011 11:25pm]

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