ST. PETERSBURG — When a St. Petersburg police officer found her Thursday afternoon, the 3-month-old dog's ears were falling off.
Someone had tightly wrung rubber bands around Nikki's ears, causing deep incisions.
SPCA Tampa Bay is investigating the case as animal cruelty and is offering a $500 reward for information that leads to an arrest. The SPCA says it's often a tell-tale sign of dog fighting if people try to remove the animals' ears without the help of a veterinarian.
St. Petersburg police said they responded to a call Thursday from a concerned resident in the 600 block of 13th Avenue S. The caller was worried about a brown boxer-pit bull mix that appeared to have an ear infection.
An investigation led the officer to a back yard in the 1200 block of Fifth Street S. Residents there said they had not been caring for the dog for long and that they did not know how it came to have those injuries.
Megan Trethewey, a spokeswoman for SPCA Tampa Bay, said Nikki's ears were surgically removed Thursday afternoon. SPCA veterinarians said the rubber bands were 2 inches wide and were wrapped around the dog's ears several times, most likely one to two weeks ago.
Trethewey said the dog will be put up for adoption after she recovers from surgery.
Trethewey said a shepherd mix was found with cropped ears in the same neighborhood about a year ago.
Anyone with information about the case can contact the SPCA's animal cruelty investigators at (727) 586-3591, ext. 135. Callers can remain anonymous.