Published: Feb 11, 2014 11:29 AM EST
Updated: Feb 11, 2014 11:42 AM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Lee County Domestic Animal Services found an elderly dog that had been abandoned in the woods, presumably to die, last week. The 18-year-old Lhasa Apso was blind and severely matted, while suffering from numerous other medical conditions. She had to be humanely euthanized, due to her condition.

In the first five weeks of 2014, LDAS responded to 160 calls for cruelty and neglect, 99 calls for sick and injured animals, and 46 calls regarding abandoned animals. These statistics are not new to Animal Services’ staff.

“We want to emphasize, once again, that there is no reason for any animal to suffer neglect or abandonment when Lee County offers programs to residents who can’t afford to feed their pets or provide veterinary care,” says Glenn Johnson, LCDAS Operations Manager. Anyone receiving public assistance is eligible for these programs which are funded by charitable donations to the Animal Care Trust Fund. There are also low cost clinics throughout the county for owners who are not receiving any type of assistance but are having financial problems.

“These animals did not end up in these conditions overnight; they have suffered through prolonged periods of neglect,” explains Nicole Ferguson, LCDAS Shelter Veterinarian. “With the programs we have available it is hard to comprehend how someone could allow this to happen,” she adds.

Animal Services is investigating these abandonments under State Statute 828.13(3) which states that any person who abandons any animal in a street, road, or public place without providing for the care, sustenance, protection, and shelter is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree. If found guilty, the offense is punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or imprisonment.

Anyone with information about this dog or her owner is asked to call Animal Services at 533-7387, ext. 2, or contact Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS. Lee County Domestic Animal Services accepts anonymous complaints and information. The public is also urged to report neglected and abandoned animals.