The puppy was covered with bleeding sores. She was so dehydrated that rescuers had a hard time giving her a medicated bath because she kept drinking the water.
Now two people are charged with felony animal cruelty, accused of ignoring the 9-month-old pit bull's medical needs and denying her food and water.
An anonymous tipster led Hillsborough County Animal Services officers to the dog at 11723 Grove Arcade Drive in Riverview.
"Thank goodness someone said something and we got there in time and saved the dog," said Marti Ryan, an Animal Service's spokeswoman.
Alix Dontfraid, 29, and Talisa Williams, 33, who reside at the Grove Arcade address, were arrested Sunday and were free Monday after each posted $2,000 bail. Both face felony animal torture or torment charges. The penalty for a conviction is up to five years in prison.
Ryan said the puppy's ordeal — she now is called NéNé for one of the officers who rescued her — began June 24 when her owner, who also lived at the Grove Arcade address, was jailed on drug trafficking and possession charges.
The dog had a severe skin condition and infection caused by mite bites. Williams took the dog to a veterinarian July 1, Ryan said, but failed to provide any of the prescribed treatment or follow-up visits.
Instead, Ryan said, Dontfraid and Williams "left the dog outside to suffer ever since."
Dontfraid told investigators it wasn't his dog so he didn't care what happened to her, Ryan said.
Williams said a mysterious person took the dog and returned her right before the investigators found her, Ryan said.
NéNé is recovering with a foster family. She no longer lunges at food bowls but eats everything put in front of her. She is improving and becoming "a calm, loving dog; so forgiving."
"Maybe people will think twice now before letting an animal get in this condition," Ryan said. "These people were aware of the animal's pain and suffering but failed to respond."