VENICE (FOX 13) - Deputies went into a home in Venice to check on the resident's well-being but found three dogs in desperate need of rescue from an apparent hoarding situation, the sheriff's office said.
Neighbors on Sandlewood Drive are shocked after deputies discovered the three crated dogs crying for help.
"One day the door was left open and the sheriff showed up," neighbor Robert Beer said.
From inside the home, Sarasota County Deputies heard a whining noise. They went inside to make sure no one needed any help.
That's when they discovered three dog carriers with dogs inside - underneath a pile of the resident's belongings.
Lieutenant Dan Tutko with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Animal Services said this was a hoarding situation with three Yorkshire terriers caught in the middle.
"The rooms that they went into were stacked almost floor to ceiling with debris... You can't even really tell where the actual carriers are," he said.
Deputies said the dogs had no access to food or water. One of the dog's fur was matted so badly it couldn't see. Deputies say it had been several months since the dogs were last groomed.
"They had feces matted mixed in their fur. They were soaked in urine because they had been in the carriers for so long that the smell just overcame them," said Lt.Tutko. "Based on the matting of that fur they were whining because the fur was pulling the skin and was causing that undue suffering that resulted in the criminal charges."
All three dogs have since been adopted.
Deputies said the resident, Cornelia Cook could have gotten some help if she had only reached out.
"She chose not to reach out for help. She probably thought she was taking care of them the right way," said Lt.Tutko.
Cook was arrested and charged with aggravated animal cruelty, confinement without wholesome food or water, and cruelty to animals. She was released on a $13,000 bond.