A Shih Tzu was rescued from a dumpster in Florida last week after workers at a Family Dollar store found a trash bag "with something moving inside," authorities said Tuesday.
The "heinous" incident happened on Dec. 14 in Lehigh Acres, the Lee County Sheriff's Office said.
"Stuffed inside the bag, employees found sweet Xyla, a 16-year-old Shih Tzu, with a rope around her neck," Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said. "These heroic employees recognized this to be purposeful abuse and rushed Xyla to Blue Pearl Pet Hospital for evaluation."
The sheriff’s Animal Cruelty Task Force immediately responded and found surveillance footage showing a suspect driving up to the dumpster, taking a trash bag out of his trunk and tossing it into the dumpster from several feet away, according to authorities.
Detectives learned that Xyla had a microchip and discovered that her original owners were deceased. Using "the latest and greatest technology," detectives were able to track down the vehicle driven by the suspect in the surveillance footage to a residence, the sheriff’s office said.
At the home, detectives found a man, identified as Anthony Bellman, "who happened to be wearing the same clothing as the suspect in the footage," officials said.
Detectives took Bellman in for questioning and found probable cause to charge him with one count of aggravated animal cruelty. He will also be placed on the animal abuse registry.
"Today, I’m proud to announce that justice was indeed served upon a selfish and cruel individual, who clearly has no regard for animals," Marceno said.
Meanwhile, Xyla was still recovering from the "horrific incident" while authorities and animal services worked to find her a loving home.
"We are ONE team that comes together to be a voice for the innocent, such as Xyla," Marceno said. "We will never stop holding individuals accountable for these heinous actions here in this county."