TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A woman was charged with felony animal cruelty after three dogs were found in squalid conditions at a home in Bartow Thursday.
Dashong Bonner, 52, was forced to surrender her dogs before she was arrested and charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty and one count of misdemeanor cruelty, authorities said. Bonner is being held at a Polk County jail in lieu of $2,500 bond.
The charges stem from an investigation into the severe neglect of dogs at Bonner’s home on 9th Avenue near Wabash Street. Animal control officers were called to the residence Thursday and found a dog dead and two others in a badly neglected state.
A cur mix named Buster had been kept in a wire kennel on the back porch and starved to death, investigators said.
“The dog had no visible fat on its body and appeared to be skin and bones,” the sheriff’s office said in a news release.
Authorities said the two surviving dogs were both anemic and could barely stand. Both dogs had heartworms and hookworms, according to the arrest report.
One of the dogs, a 5-year-old pit bull mix, was so desperate for food that it ate a plastic dog food bag. The animal was found inside a wire kennel, weighing only 24.1 pounds.
“In the bottom of the kennel were pieces of plastic the dog had digested and passed with its feces,” the arrest report said.
The other dog, a 1-year-old cur mix, was found roaming in the front yard. The dog weighed only 22 pounds and had to be picked up and carried to the transport vehicle.
According to deputies, Bonner said her ex-husband left her with the dogs, and she couldn’t remember the last time she cared for them. She said she purchased dog food on Monday and once a few weeks ago, but couldn’t remember the last time she fed them.
She said her kids are in charge of feeding the dogs “when she remembers to tell them.” She said she did not realize the dog was dead in the kennel, according to deputies.
“Our Ag Crimes detectives and Animal Control personnel have seen some pretty awful things, but this is the worst case of animal cruelty they’ve encountered in a very long time,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “It’s a shame we didn’t get there in time to save them all. We appreciate the anonymous citizen who saw something, and said something.”