Wednesday, April 25, 2018
Public safety

Valrico couple face cruelty charges in dog's severe neglect

HILLSBOROUGH — The dog's hide was so raw from mange that the strip of carpet where she rested painfully fused to her skin.

Hillsborough County Animal Services investigators learned of the dog, named Bella, after receiving an anonymous call earlier this week. They arrived at the house at 307 Brickyard Court in Valrico on Tuesday and found the pup lying in a lanai.

Her owners, Jamell Garrett, 41, and his wife, Sharhonda Garrett, 34, were arrested and face felony animal cruelty charges.

Investigators carefully pried the piece of carpet from Bella's severely scabbed and infected skin, said Animal Services spokeswoman Marti Ryan.

"This dog is in a miserable state," she said.

The Garretts told investigators they tried treating the dog's skin with over-the-counter medications and admitted to never taking Bella, believed to be a Labrador mix about 1 year old, to the veterinarian.

"They did state they had been dealing with this for a few weeks," Ryan said. "It is obvious that this condition took a lot longer to escalate."

A cat in good condition was also removed from the home.

Bella was taken to Animal Services, where she is under observation and undergoing treatment, including antibiotics and medicated baths.

It will take weeks for the dog's skin to heal. Bella's face and most of her body is red from the infection. Some small patches of her golden hair remain.

At about 30 pounds, she is also underweight.

When she begins to recover, Bella will be placed in a foster home.

"Soon, you will start to see her change and recover and respond and wag her tail," Ryan said. "We're hopeful."

The Garretts were booked into the Hillsborough County jail. They posted bail early Wednesday.

Animal Services was also investigating another case. Jennifer Torres, 34, of Tampa, was arrested Wednesday on felony animal cruelty and improper confinement charges.

Last week, investigators discovered her pitbull and hound mix, Roxy, covered in feces and severely underweight inside a bathroom at 3905 Wisconsin Ave. Roxy was taken to Animal Services, where she has already gained a few pounds, Ryan said.

Torres was booked into the Hillsborough County jail, where she remained Wednesday afternoon in lieu of $2,500 bail.

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