SKOWHEGAN, Maine — A Clinton couple were charged with cruelty to animals after their neglected poodle was found in such bad shape that it had to be put down, police said Thursday.

Skowhegan Police Chief Michael Emmons said a passer-by noticed a small dog that had been abandoned in a gazebo near Pineland Drive in Skowhegan on Nov. 29. The dog was brought to the police station, and Officer Joshua King took the animal from there to the Somerset Humane Society in Skowhegan.

“Its eyes were matted shut with feces. It couldn’t walk. It couldn’t eat,” said Emmons on Thursday.

He said Somerset Humane Society Veterinarian Michael Wing concluded that the dog “suffered from chronic neglect, flea infestation and paralysis. The poor thing was in such bad shape that they had to euthanize it.”

Officer King “was very upset about the condition of the dog,” said Hattie Spaulding, manager of the Somerset Humane Society. “This is why he did great investigation work and pushed and pushed to find the owner of this dog.”

Paul Laudieri, 44, and his wife, Christina Laudieri, 44, of Clinton were summoned on Dec. 11, and each was charged with one count of cruelty to animals, a Class D misdemeanor punishable by fines and up to 364 days in jail, said Emmons. The couple had previously lived in Skowhegan before moving to Clinton.

The reason they allegedly left the dog?

“They were moving, and the new place would not allow them to have dogs,” Emmons said. “They felt that if they left the dog there, someone would find it and give it a chance.”

Instead, the lap-sized poodle didn’t have a chance, said Spaulding.

“[The fur] wasn’t just matted. It couldn’t even bend its arm because it was all fused together,” she said. “Its nails were sticking out away from its paws. It had been like that for a long time.

“She had a lot of tumors on her stomach,” she added. “We were able to determine that it was a female. It wasn’t even obvious what it was at first.”

Many at the shelter were emotional after seeing the dog’s condition, said Spaulding.

“A lot of workers were in tears and angry. They were very upset about it,” she said. “There was nothing the vet could do. This dog was already suffering enough. It was a shame.”

It was the most neglected animal she had seen that was still alive, said Spaulding.

The Laudieris are now on the shelter’s Do Not Adopt list, she said.

“[They can’t adopt] from here or anywhere else,” said Spaulding. “We just can’t believe that this still happens.”

The couple do have cats, she said.

“I want their cats out of there. They shouldn’t have any more animals,” said Spaulding.

The Laudieris could not be reached for comment late Thursday afternoon.

Spaulding said it doesn’t take much effort to take care of animals.

“Get their shots, brush their hair, give them a bath. Animal care is very simple,” she said. “There are lots of things you can do at home that doesn’t cost anything. I don’t like hearing that ‘we can’t afford it.’ Some shampoo, a comb, some water and food.”

Spaulding is asking those who come across a neglected animal to contact the local animal control officer, police department or shelter.

A court date has not yet been set for the Laudieris, said Emmons.