Hercules was barely a dog anymore, confined and forgotten in a Gloucester County basement like a box of dusty, old toys.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Roxanne Notaro's chocolate Lab "Little" had food, warmth, and love.
Officials with the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals say it's a miracle Hercules, an American bulldog, is alive after police officers found him locked in a small crate, covered in feces, urine and fleas in the basement of Notaro's home on Vassar Road in the Wenonah last week.
Hercules weighed 38 pounds.
"He was literally skin and bones with little or no muscle mass," NJSPCA spokesman Matt Stanton said in a news release.
The NJSPCA filed six counts of animal cruelty against Notaro in Deptford Township Municipal Court on Monday, including one charge for the condition of a cat found living upstairs in Notaro's home. The cat had to be euthanized, Stanton said.
Officials were surprised to find a chocolate lab living upstairs in good weight and health, except for fleas. Stanton said Notaro offered no explanation why she cared for the Lab, named Little, but not Hercules. She signed the Lab over to the NJSPCA
"It is very difficult to comprehend how a person starves one dog in basement and feeds another upstairs," Stanton wrote.
Notaro could no be reached for comment Tuesday, but a picture of her "beloved" cat and Labrador was on her Facebook page. She expressed grief on her Facebook wall that the chocolate Lab was gone.
"Little no matter what went on we will always love you," Notaro wrote this morning.
Stanton said Hercules was anemic and could not stand on his own when animal control officers removed him. He is being treated at the Delaware Valley Veterinary Hospital, where he will undergo surgery to his elbow once he regains weight. The NJSPCA will be accepting donations for Hercules' medical care at www.njspca.org.