The sandy brown dog was hours away from death when a Palm Beach County Animal Control officer pulled her from the wire cage where the dog had been left in the baking sun.
The little pit bull weighed just 10 pounds and was covered in feces, when animal control found her Thursday in the back yard of a Delray Beach home. She should have weighed 40 pounds.
It was not known how long she'd been left to fend for herself in heat that peaked at 91degrees in Palm Beach County that day. "There is no doubt the only reason this dog is alive is because it had rained," said Dianne Sauve, director of the county's animal control division.
But the emaciated pup isn't alone. Animal control has seized a record number of dogs this summer because owners have left them out in the sun. Some were tethered on chains, a violation of county law.
In the past two weeks alone, nearly 30 dogs have been removed because they didn't have water, shelter and food. In past years, animal control officials have typically seized about 2 to 3 dogs a week because of the heat, Sauve said.
"We are seeing more cases where we are physically removing the animals for fear that, if they are left, they aren't going to survive," Sauve said.
The pit bull was one of six dogs seized Thursday from the yard of the home at 338 N.W. 5th Ave. in Delray Beach. Four were tethered. One was in a crate.
Animal control officials said they have not determined who owns the dog. A person living at that address, who they did not identify, told them she was not his pet.
No charges have been filed against the homeowner. Animal control officers are still investigating, and plan to seek custody of the dogs, Sauve said.
Animal control officials estimate that the pit bull, whose name is not known, is between 1 and 2 years old. She was unable to walk and could barely lift her head up when she was brought into the county's shelter. She was also suffering from intestinal parasites and a skin disorder.
Palm Beach County codes prohibit pet owners from leaving their dogs outside without shelter and water if the temperature reaches 90 degrees, Sauve said. It is also illegal to chain a dog outdoors between the hours of 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Owners who violate these rules could face animal cruelty charges, Sauve said.
Animal control is asking residents who see dogs chained or left outside in the hot sun to call the division at (561) 233-1200.
An Adult female Pit Bull dog rescued last week by Animal Care and Control. The dog had no water and had been left in her crate outside. The dog survived and is recovering at Animal Care and Control.