But despite an initial flurry of attention, on October 21, six dogs remained on the property, confirmed Summers. A review of official OCAS notes and photos by The Dodo show the dogs were still being kept in substandard wooden cages.
On November 4, however, there were just five. "The owner rehomed the dog," Summers explained.
Requests to OCAS to find out where and to whom the sixth dog was rehomed were not immediately answered. The owner of the dogs - Raymond Williams - had been jailed earlier on animal cruelty charges but officials were unable to confirm if Williams has been released.
It wouldn't be the first dog lost due to unclear circumstances. OCAS's notes also show that Sassy originally gave birth to six puppies. One of them apparently died and was buried by Williams while two remain unaccounted for. Efforts to reach the division manager of OCAS, Dil Luther, were not immediately returned.
In the meantime, some advocates who have continued to monitor the situation remain deeply frustrated by OCAS's apparent lack of action. Kayleigh Hill, an activist from Orlando, wrote an email to The Dodo expressing her thoughts:
When I first started following this case, I thought for sure that the dogs would be removed, and that it would be a matter of the public coming together to press for harsher charges for the accused. As time has gone on, I have been left very confused and feeling almost hopeless regarding the animals left behind. I have attended the Orange County Animal Services meeting since the break of this story, with myself and other members of the community voicing our concerns with the dogs not being removed and are puzzled as to why they would be left behind ... At the first meeting after the story broke, members of the community were so concerned with the animals being left behind after the arrests, and Dil Luther [division manager, OCAS] acknowledged that the conditions were less than ideal, but stated that 'the dogs will not die overnight.' In context, it felt as though they were not of concern. In fact, this month, the meeting was canceled for members of the board failing to show up and participate. Watching these poor animals sit and wait on a rescue that feels like will never come is pure torture for me as an activist.
OCAS acknowledges the public's concern and in some cases, criticism. However, it defends its actions: "We agree this is certainly not an ideal situation," reads an OCAS statement previously provided to The Dodo. "However, by law a warrant or exigent circumstances - clear the animals are in an immediate death or serious injury situation - are required in order to remove animals from the property, which is why one of the dogs were able to be removed."
In what might be the one sliver of hope in a story that exposes Florida's weak animal welfare laws, enforcement actions and animal protection values that still pepper the nation, Sassy is looking healthy - and still waiting to be adopted.
Sassy's adoption portraitTampa Bay SPCA