Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Under investigation- Charleston, SC

Authorities took custody of an approximately 7- to 8-year-old Lab mix after they found the 35-pound animal malnourished and without shelter late Saturday. Officials at the Charleston Animal Society in North Charleston say a dog of that age should weigh at least 50 pounds.

A North Charleston resident is under investigation for animal cruelty after authorities found a black Lab mix dead in a backyard last weekend. Temperatures had fallen below freezing.

The cause of death was a combination of factors, including malnutrition, exposure and dehydration.

A second Labrador retriever mix, also severely neglected but "still alive attached to a fence," was removed from the property. The animal, estimated at 8 years old, weighed about one-third below normal weight.

Kay Hyman, director of outreach and communications for the Charleston Animal Society, said the death is especially stressing given that the society's North Charleston shelter is trying to help pet owners with a free food bank for their animals.

"There's no excuse for an animal to die neglected and hungry at the end of a chain," she said.

No charges were filed against the owner as of Tuesday, but charges are expected to include cruelty to animals and neglect, said Spencer Pryor, North Charleston police public information officer.

Potential penalties include up to 30 days jail time and fines for each incident, Hyman said.

The second dog is recovering at the animal shelter.

A North Charleston police officer's incident report described the scene as tortuous to the animals, with food and water bowls empty.

"Both dogs did appear to be severely neglected by the owner/resident from lack of food," it stated. "The temperatures in the past few days were in the 20s and the dogs appeared to have no shelter for warmth nor food or water."

Seeking assistance should be the first option for anyone who can no longer care for their pets, Hyman said. In cases of cruelty, neighbors shouldn't be afraid to call authorities when they see incidents of neglect, she added.

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