Hernando family accused of abusing nearly a dozen dogs

By Chay D. Baxley, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 5:05 PM EST

Three members of a Hernando County family were arrested after authorities discovered 11 dogs had been severely mistreated while in their care.

  • Brooksville family arrested Jan. 4, charged with animal abuse
  • Deputies discovered 11 dogs that were reportedly criminally neglected
  • Tabatha Gordon, 27, Joshua Tharpe, 31, and Tiny Tharpe, 53, charged  

Deputies say they were actually responding to a nearby residence when they noticed several dogs tied to a tree at 18025 Nicholas Avenue in Brooksville.

When they approached, the level of animal abuse became apparent:

Three Chihuahuas were found caged with no water. Larger breeds, including pitbulls and hound-mixes, were chained and tethered throughout the property, also without water. Deputies say some were even laying on broken shards of glass.  

One dog, a young brown-colored female named Bella, was reportedly visibly near death.

Tabatha Gordon, 27, was the only one inside the mobile home when Animal Enforcement Officer Mandy Rowe and Deputy Steve George knocked.

According to reports, she informed the deputies that the animals belonged to her husband, Joshua Tharpe, 31, and his mother, Tiny Tharpe, 53, who owned the mobile home.

Authorities seized and transported the dogs to Hernando County Animal Services. All were reportedly covered in fleas and ticks, and were extremely malnourished.

Bella could barely walk to her rescuer's vehicle, deputies say.

In a press release, deputies wrote:

Bella was criminally neglected. Bella weighed 33 pounds upon intake and should have weighed about 45 pounds. She (the veternarian) stated the dog was malnourished and extremely anemic from blood loss, due to thousands of fleas that she was infested with. Bella's body temperature was so low she required a heating pad to keep her alive.


Gordon and both Tiny and Joshua Tharpe were arrested on charges of animal cruelty. Individual bonds were set at $1,000.