Lifestyle & Human Interest

Suspect Finally Arrested in Horrific Animal Cruelty Case - Deputies Find 2 Other Struggling Dogs in Her Home


When an emaciated Catahoula leopard dog was picked up on the streets of Lehigh Acres, Florida, in early August, people were livid. The poor creature was barely even skin and bones when Mutty Paws Rescue took her in, and she required immediate, intensive care.

Named Khaleesi, the terribly malnourished pup was in such a state that the finders originally thought she was a senior dog, only to find out later that she was actually just a year old.

On Aug. 24, after spending over a week in the ICU, Khaleesi was cleared to go home with a foster family — but the work of getting her healthy again was (and still is) just beginning.

In an update post a day later, the rescue said she was scheduled to go in for treatment during the day and go home with her foster family at night, and that people “still need to pray for her.”

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While she has proved her will to live at every turn and is now in the most loving hands and coziest of beds, her story was still incomplete, since the person who did this to her was not yet identified.

But this week, two suspects were arrested and another heartbreaking discovery was made.

“TWO ARRESTS HAVE BEEN MADE,” the rescue posted in an update on Wednesday. “More dogs found.”

“We want to share with all of our supporters, everyone who has been following Khaleesi’s story since Aug. 11 when we rescued her, that Ashley Howard & Charles Koons, Khaleesi’s former owners were taken into custody yesterday!!

“The Lee County Sheriff’s Office Animal Cruelty Task Force has been hard at work and have wasted no time to get justice for our girl. There will be a formal update done by the LCSO in the coming days that we will share. We will wait for the LCSO press release to be released for in depth details but we will say this, what we are learning is devastating to us and the emotional toll for us is far more than we imagined with new details unfolding.”

According to WBBH-TV, three other dogs were found in Howard’s possession: One (owned by Koons) was in good shape, but two others were well on their way to the same state Khaleesi was found in.

Lee County sheriff’s deputies said Howard was caring for Khaleesi for several months before dumping her on the streets and was also “caring” for the two malnourished dogs. While Koons’ dog was in good shape, he allegedly knew about the state of the other dogs Howard was caring for and thus was also arrested.

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“KHALEESI WAS NOT THE ONLY VICTIM,” the rescue clarified in a subsequent post. “Her story was the break in the case that ultimately led to the others who were suffering just as she was. Yes we will help them but they are now a part of a criminal case so we have to respect and follow the courts lead.”

“I’m absolutely disgusted by the extreme suffering these sick people caused to three helpless dogs,” Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said.

“Thanks to the incredible work from our Animal Cruelty Task Force and East CID Detectives, the suspects are behind bars.”

The suspects face three charges of animal cruelty each.

The arrests have brought comfort to the team that has had to make some tough calls regarding the neglected dog.

“We have spent hours on end sitting with Khaleesi in the emergency vets, having to make tough decisions if we should keep fighting or let her rest, we were faced with decisions that were never easy to make, and have shed more tears than we ever imagined possible,” the rescue shared. “But she had the will to live, the will to keep fighting for her life, and is starting to turn the corner to the rest of her life.

“What these horrendous MONSTERS did to her will never be something we can erase from her past, but we can promise her a future of love, food, and all the care she will ever need. We are #Khaleesistrong.”

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