FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The NC Department of Justice is stepping in after several Fayetteville pet-owners claim a pet sitter returned their dogs malnourished and sickly.
Back in Dec., Brianna Brassfield was planning to go back to New Mexico for the holidays but needed someone to watch her dog, Duke.
Brassfield decided to contact Shiloh Taylor, a local who runs an in-home pet sitting business called Golden Girl Pet Care.
"I read her reviews, and it had good reviews and everything," Brassfield said.
A meet and greet later, Brassfield dropped Duke off at Taylor's house on Dec. 26 and wouldn't be back in Fayetteville until Jan. 5.
Brassfield returned home to a horrifying surprise.
"I couldn't help but cry because I was like, my dog is skinny. He has a cut on his head, he was in the back seat trembling and shivering," Brassfield said.
Duke was 11-pounds lighter, his ribs were showing, he had blistered paws and roundworms. Brassfield quickly rushed Duke to an animal urgent care where they bandaged him up and gave him some medicine.
"I hope another dog isn't going through the same thing he did. So, that was my main thing about posting the post was to warn people," Brassfield said.
A Facebook post that prompted other pet-owners across the Sandhills to share similar experiences with Golden Girl Pet Care, including Maddie Aston.
"I was crying, holding him, you know, apologizing saying, 'I'm so sorry, Rocky. I'm so sorry, buddy,'" Aston said.
Aston and her military husband went home for the holidays, also leaving their dog, Rocky, with Taylor.
"It was like, his hair was yellow, almost orange-y. It was so, like, crusted. He kept pawing at his eyes and his ears," Aston said.
In Aston's account, she believes Rocky had been stuck in his kennel, laying in his own urine for quite a while, based on his fur.
A veterinarian visit revealed Rocky lost five-pounds in 10 days; in addition, he had a UTI, fever and was dehydrated.
"He probably thought, 'they don't like me, and they left me in this terrible place, and they're not coming back,'" Aston added.
The couple never suspected anything initially, being they were able to meet Taylor in person and see the home; however, it was when they were away for the 10 days that things started to seem fishy.
Aston says Taylor would take days to send a picture of Rocky. The pictures she did receive showed a dog that looked a lot more timid and fearful than his usual loving, energetic self.
The N.C. Department of Justice tells ABC11 five individuals, including Aston and Brassfield, have submitted animal cruelty reports to its office.
The DOJ also confirms that Taylor does not have a license to run that type of pet boarding business.
Aston confronted Taylor through Facebook Messenger. The pet sitter responded with an apology and claimed it had never happened before.
Both women paid for Taylor's services upfront.
The Cumberland County Animal Control says they have also received complaints regarding Taylor. At this time, enforcement staff is currently investigating and they encourage pet-owners to always be wary when looking for a pet sitting service.
"Always check your references for any pet sitting service, as well as make sure they are bonded and insured. For a boarding kennel, the public should always check to make sure they are licensed through the N.C. Department of Agriculture," CCAS Director Elaine Smith said.
ABC11 attempted to contact Taylor by phone and in person but have not heard back.
The DOJ's office is currently in contact with animal control and the Department of Agriculture as a part of this investigation.
If you have had a similar experience with Taylor's pet services, you can submit an Animal Welfare Complaint Form.
Horrified Fayetteville pet owners claim pet sitter left their dogs malnourished, sickly