By Carson Chambers, ABC Action News
Winston is a puppy and sometimes puppies do things that test your patience. "He snores all night long and that's his other characteristic. He snores and makes all kinds of weird noises," said his owner Andrea Hellenbrand.
But she says she's quick to overlook his quirks because the puppy's had a rough past. "It's really sad that he had to go through this. It breaks my heart that someone could have hurt him," said Hellenbrand.
The pit bull mix was the first of five strays Hillsborough Animal Control treated for mysterious burns down their backs. Two came from an Apollo Beach neighborhood. Another two from a Tampa neighborhood off Hillsborough Avenue.
"I want to say how much I'm outraged by this type of behavior. It sickens me and our community will not tolerate it and I know the Humane Society has offered a
Reward," said Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan.
Hagan says the strange coincidence is hard to ignore. Now animal control investigators have called-on a leading animal cruelty expert at the University of Florida to identify the cause of the burns which are suspected to be from a chemical.
"We're hoping that someone up there says I know what that is, I've seen it before, and maybe that'll help us figure out what's going on here," said Dennis McCullough with Hillsborough County Animal Control.
Meanwhile, the other dogs healing from the burns are still waiting to be adopted. Two of the dogs are at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and vets expect their wounds to heal.
Hellenbrand says Winston's proof the scars may be permanent but a little love can save a life. "They deserve good homes. He's just as cute and cuddly as the next dog," she said.