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A Floral City woman is facing charges of causing cruel death and pain and suffering to a dog after a Citrus County Sheriff’s deputy reported he found the animal too weak from malnourishment to stand on its own and covered in sores.

Sarah Lee Justin

Sarah Lee Justin

The deputy reported that he was at the home of Sarah Lee Justin 31, on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, regarding another matter, according to the arrest report.

When arriving at the home, Justin told the deputy she had a dog inside the living room and would have to move it to another room for him to come inside. The deputy told Justin the dog could stay where it was.

When he went inside, the deputy later described the dog as “very malnourished” and the deputy reported the dog’s ribs were exposed. The deputy reported the dog was so weak that it had to prop its head against the living room couch for support to barely stand, according to the arrest report.

The dog also had fresh sores on its joints and was dehydrated, according to the arrest report. The deputy said in the arrest report that the dog’s breathing was so shallow that at first he thought the dog was not breathing.

The deputy reported there was no food or water accessible to the dog and the deputy reported he could not find any dog food in the home, according to the arrest report.

The deputy reported that Justin told him she had taken the dog that day to the veterinarian, but soon changed her story. She later said she was about to take the dog to the veterinarian just before the deputy arrived, he wrote in the arrest report. The deputy reported she changed her story yet again and that it was not her dog and it had arrived just hours before the deputy arrived.

When the woman set a bowl of water in front of the dog, the deputy said the dog was so weak it could not support itself and its head fell into the water.  

The deputy called an animal control officer to the home, who took the dog to a local veterinarian. The veterinarian said the sores form when animals are confined in closed environments, such as a cage, according to the arrest report.

The deputy arrested Justin, charging her with felony animal cruelty. Her bond is $2,000.

Contact Chronicle reporter Fred Hiers at fred.hiers@chronicleonline.com or 352-397-5914.