ELIZABETH — An elderly dog with not much longer to live was left outside to suffer by an Elizabeth couple, police said.

Police officers responded to the home of Moris and Glady Gamez on the 300 block of Magnolia Avenue last week where they found a dog chained up outside the home, acting Union County Prosecutor Michael A. Monahan said.

The dog, a shepherd mix, was severely matted and had several insect bites, according to Monahan.

The water bowl in the picture above was only provided after authorities intervened, officials said.

The yard where the dog was found was "covered in debris and animal waste," according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Patricia Cronin. The dog was surrendered to police and taken to the Elizabeth Animal Shelter, where it was learned it was also suffering from arthritis and cancer.

"There needs to be wider recognition that New Jersey's animal cruelty laws are written with very little tolerance for the neglect of pets," Cronin said. "Animal owners may not leave their pets outside to fend for themselves against the elements, and those who do will be prosecuted."

The couple are both charged with fourth-degree animal cruelty. If convicted they face anywhere from probation to 18 months in prison.

Cronin encouraged anyone with information about the case to call her at 908-527-4169 or Detective Vito Colacitti at 908-527-4387.