Woman accused of animal cruelty after dog found in deplorable condition

Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Carmela Velazco Santiago, 37

A woman was arrested after being accused of animal cruelty when a dog was found in deplorable conditions at a home in North Fort Myers.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said a tip was received on Friday and deputies went to the home of Carmela Velazco Santiago on Pioneer Road to investigate. And he’s calling this tipster a hero.

Marceno said the dog named Blanca was found tied up and was so infested with fleas she was bleeding, severely malnourished, and without food, water, or shade.

“The dog ate rocks and was starving to death,” the sheriff said.

He added that a veterinarian found the dog had a 103-degree temperature when she arrived and was positive for heartworm.

Blanca received a blood transfusion and is currently on a long road to recovery.

Marceno said when investigators spoke with Velazco Santiago, “she felt she did nothing wrong and the dog should be euthanized.”

Velazco Santiago had the dog for 12 years and said she started to chain Blanca up because she was escaping to eat trash.

WINK News spoke to neighbors who say she also has other dogs who are well cared for.

Velazco Santiago faces a charge of aggravated animal cruelty. She was released on a $5,000 bond.

If you have a tip on animal abuse, you can report it to SWFL Crime Stoppers anonymously and will be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000. You can call Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477) or online at southwestfloridacrimestoppers.com

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