Josefina Baldera Solis of Virginia was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty after she chained up her dog and let him die from flea bites.
Amanda Hios, a neighbor worried about the dog’s health, called animal control. She said she often saw Solis’ mixed-breed dog, Golden, tied up outside, but something particularly alarming motivated her to call for help on Sept. 9, report WTVR and WXIN.
"That dog was crying for at least eight hours," Hios said. "I had never heard an animal so sad in my life."
Prince George Animal Control officers discovered Solis’ dog tied up to his dog house in the County Aire mobile home community on Sept. 9.
"When the pound came, he could not left his head off the ground. It was the saddest thing I've ever seen," said Hios.
"The dog was completely unresponsive. He was breathing shallowly. She (the animal control officer) could see the dog was in dire straights," Prince George County Animal Control Supervisor Job Greene said. "She picked the dog up, wrapped it in a blanket and drove him to Disputanta Animal Hospital immediately."
Sadly, the dog did not survive the trip to the animal hospital. Golden died from blood loss on the way to the vet. Fleas had drained Golden’s blood to the point he was unable to survive, according to Greene.
The veterinarian who did Golden’s necropsy said the dog’s hair was “almost completely covered with fleas” and he had never seen such an extensive flea infestation in his 23-year career, reports WXIN.
"It was an astonishing amount of fleas on the dog," said Greene. "The doctor had never seen a dog with that many fleas before."
Those fleas instantly latched onto the Animal Control officer sent to Country Aire to investigate.
Solis was sentenced on Dec. 8 to serve a 12-month sentence with a six-month active sentence for abusing her dog.
"The sentence was fair ... if you neglect to provide care for your dog, it is going to be taken seriously," said Greene. "It was a harsh, but fair sentence."
Dr. Margaret Metry, a veterinarian who did not treat Golden, told WTVR blood sucking from fleas would cause acute fragility in the animal. But it would have been a "pretty bad infestation for quite a while," to kill an adult dog.
In response to Solis’ sentence, Metry told WVTR, "I do think it's a long time, but I do think it is very fair. If you own an animal, you are responsible for that animal and you're going to be prosecuted criminally if you don't take care of it."