Casper's former owners take the stand
TAMPA - The two owners of a malnourished dog took the stand in their animal cruelty trial today.
Wilmer Fernandez and Aixa Rodriguez said they were given Casper for free in August 2008.
Fernandez told jurors then his work hours were cut and he still had $900 in child support to pay his ex-wife for his four children monthly, and the rent on their home was $1,200.
Rodriguez testified despite receiving $700 a month in child support from her ex-husband and a part-time job, it was not enough to pay the bills.
Defense attorneys said the couple believed Casper was sick, but they didn't have the money to take him to the vet. They said they did give him medication for a skin condition.
The veterinarian who testified yesterday said she found no signs of disease and believed the Boxer lost so much weight because he was underfed or starved.
Rodriguez broke down on the stand when she told jurors Casper was part of the family, and they had no intention for this to happen.
"And I couldn't find, you know I tried, to just help him," Rodriguez said in Spanish. "But everything that I was able to, whatever we could do, we never want to leave Casper behind."
Rodriguez testified about a previous dog she owned
with her ex-husband that they couldn't afford to care for either
. She said they took it to animal services for adoption, but the dog was never adopted and was put to sleep.
Rodriguez added because of the past experience she was afraid if they took Casper to animal services, he too would also be put to sleep.
Rodriguez is the defense's last witness. Then the jury will begin deliberations.
If convicted, both face up to five years in prison.