Chatham County Animal Control calls it one of the most extreme cases of animal cruelty they have ever seen. So extreme, we can't even show you the pictures.
This isn't the only animal abuse case we are learning about; Chatham County Recorder's Court had four cases today. But one stood out. It involved a shitzu named Wishbone. Animal Control showed us the pictures, but officers saw Wishbone in person.
"When I saw it, it tore my heart up," said Animal Control Lt. Brenda Boulware.
She says that Cynthia Williams' dog was so flea-infested, it scratched itself raw all over its face and body. It looked so bad, we asked Lt. Boulware how it was even still alive. "That's a good question," she said. "When those pictures were taken, it was very much alive."
Williams did take Wishbone to the VCA animal hospital. When someone in the lobby saw the condition Wishbone was in, they called Animal Control.
"She didn't intentionally harm the dog or maim it or anything," said Randy Schmidt, Williams' attorney. "It was like a member of the family."
Schmidt has seen the pictures, too. "It was kind of gross, that's true," he said. "But it was the result of her not being able to financially afford to take it to the vet and from advice she got from vet people."
"I got angry that someone would let their dog get into that condition," said Lt. Boulware.
According to the report, Williams' treatments included peroxide on the skin of the dog, using a stiff brush and keeping the dog in a closet.
Lt. Boulware had a few reasons to be angry Thursday morning. Three other people were up on cruelty charges, including Akelo Stone, who was police say starved his two dogs to death. He was sentenced to two years probation and 80 hours of community service.
The other two cases also involved dogs being starved. Animal Control says a woman named Janet Taylor starved her dog to death. He was found tethered to a stake. In another case, Gary Lemont is accused of not providing food or water. His three dogs had to get emergency care. Their cases will be heard next month.
"People are becoming more aware and are reporting it," said Lt. Boulware.
For some animals, it's too late. Wishbone's skin condition was so severe, veterarians were forced to put him to sleep.
It's what Boulware calls "just absolute neglect on the owner's part."
Cynthia Williams will be back in court December 21 in Superior Court. Her hearing is at 9:45am. Animal rescue groups and advocates plan on being there next Wednesday, too.