Crime

She moved and left pets to die in Bradenton apartment, cops say. She faces felony charges

A Sarasota woman has been arrested on charges she left her pets to die when she moved from her Bradenton apartment, according to authorities.

Sarah Marie Wilson, 36, is accused of abandoning three pets in her former Bradenton apartment for more than a month without a sufficient supply of drinking water.

Wilson’s two small dogs and cat were found dead inside of her apartment at Champions Walk in South Bradenton, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

A veterinarian consulted by the sheriff’s office said that dehydration was a probable cause of death.

The events leading up to the deaths of the pets began in January of 2018, according to a sheriff’s report.

On Jan. 16, 2018, the maintenance supervisor at the apartment complex entered Wilson’s residence to perform scheduled repairs.

The supervisor found two “Chihuahua-type dogs,” one tan and the other brindle and white, cowering inside of the apartment.

The supervisor observed that the room was filthy and smelled of urine and feces and that the dogs had no drinking water.

The apartment also appeared to be partially vacated.

The supervisor provided water for the dogs, took a photo of them and notified apartment management of the situation.

On Jan. 18, Wilson responded to an email inquiry about her dogs, stating that a caretaker had left them outside of their cage, but that “the animals had now been taken care of.”

On Jan. 31, a notice was posted to Wilson’s door for non-payment of rent. The notice remained attached to the door for nearly a month with no response from Wilson.

On Feb. 26, apartment staff entered the apartment due to Wilson’s failure to pay rent. The maintenance supervisor found the tan dog in the bedroom, deceased. The animals’ water dishes were still empty.

Apartment staff then notified Manatee County Animal Services of the situation, but the effort came too late to save the pets.

An animal services officer located the body of Wilson’s cat behind the headboard of her bed.

The last pet was found on a later date as the apartment was being cleaned. The brindle and white dog’s body was discovered under some blankets in a closet. The maintenance supervisor buried the dog.

On Feb. 28, the apartment manager emailed Wilson, asking her to confirm that she was no longer living at Champions Walk.

Wilson responded later that day that she still had a few items to get out of the apartment and that she still needed to move the dogs.

The manager informed Wilson that her dogs were dead.

Detectives were unable to make contact with Wilson until May of 2018, at which time Wilson claimed that the animals had died during the last few days of February after she gave them a flea treatment.

However, a necropsy conducted by the veterinary doctor found that the animals had already been deceased for weeks at that point.

Wilson also claimed that the animals had plenty of food and water and that she slept in bed with them at the apartment every night. That same bed was observed to be stained and covered in feces by the animal services officer during the time frame that Wilson alleges she was there.

After corresponding with Wilson, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office requested a warrant for her arrest on two counts of animal cruelty—a third-degree felony with a maximum five-year prison sentence.

Wilson was arrested by Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday.

Wilson posted bond of $3,000 and was released the same day.

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