PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. -- An animal cruelty trial began on Tuesday in the case of a starving dog found with a rubber band clamping its mouth shut and the woman accused of neglecting him.
One of the key questions in this case is how that rubber band became wrapped around Sox the dog's muzzle. Public defenders representing Sox's former owner, Tieesha Cogdell, say she doesn't know how it got there, and only found it after the Yorkie-poodle mix started having trouble breathing. They say she tried to seek help from friends after noticing that he was having problems, and that his hair was so long that it hid the rubber band.
Attorneys for the state, however, say that rubber band is just one reason why the jury should find Cogdell guilty of animal cruelty.
The state called several witnesses, including the SPCA Tampa Bay Humane Officer, who was initially sent to Cogdell's house after an anonymous tip came in, and the Clearwater police officer who later became involved in the case. They both agreed that Sox needed help.
"[Sox] was a little furball covered in feces, fleas, and the only thing you could see was two small eyes," SPCA Humane Officer Jill Purl recalls.
One thing they couldn't yet see was the rubber band around his muzzle and how much damage it had caused. Purl says she later asked Cogdell about the rubber band.
"She said she didn't know how the rubber band got on the dog's muzzle. I asked her how long the band had been on there. She said approximately nine days," Purl says.
Cogdell declined to testify on her own behalf. Closing arguments are expected to happen on Wednesday before the jury deliberates and returns with a verdict.