Friday, November 20, 2009

Tommy, the dog found in the trash, is now a 'fat little man'

BY MARIA BARAN - News-Democrat

Contact reporter Maria Baran at or 239-2460.

He's gained 17 pounds, he loves to jump up on visitors and he chews through three toys a day. Soon, he'll move to a new home.

Tommy, a young pit bull that was rescued from the trash last month in Cahokia, continues to recover at Club Paws doggy day care in Alton.

"He's a fat little man, now," said Jackie Spiker, of Hope Animal Rescues Inc., a no-kill shelter in Madison County.

The abused puppy has come a long way since Oct. 29 when a trash collector found him emaciated and injured in a trash can. The dog had an electrical cord embedded in his neck, his body was covered with bruises and burns and he weighed only 30 pounds -- 15 to 20 pounds less than a healthy dog his size.

Tommy's former owner Tracia Johnson was charged with three misdemeanors for cruel treatment to animals and violating animal owner's duties. The 34-year-old, of 503 Mildred Ave. in Cahokia, is scheduled for a court appearance Jan. 20.

After Tommy's rescue and a surgery to remove the cord from his neck, 47 people applied to adopt the dog.

The field has been narrowed to one home that Tommy may move into next month: A Lenzburg couple who live on five acres and offer their two other pooches doggy-door access to a half-acre, fenced yard.

"They have a beautiful home, set up geared toward their pets," Spiker said. "They are a childless couple and their dogs are their kids. That would be a perfect home for him."

Before he can be adopted, Tommy faces one more possible surgery to make sure the skin on his neck heals properly.

Rescuers first thought Tommy was a 1-year-old mix between a pit bull and a lab. Now, they think he may be a 9- to 10-month-old pit bull.

Despite the abuse he suffered, Tommy is able to play with other dogs and loves attention. "He is a little rambunctious because he doesn't know how to play, and he is a puppy," Spiker said.

Tommy often pounces on other dogs at the doggy day care. "And they get a little mad at him and he has to go into time out. He is a brat," she said of the playful pup.

"He does know what a toy is now. He has several," she said.

Donations from the community provided for Tommy's toys, veterinarian and grooming bills, food, leash, harness and bed. Plus, the shelter was able to purchase toys for all of the other dogs.

Cahokia Police Lt. James Jones, who helped rescue Tommy, offered to visit the homes of potential owners to help the puppy find the right fit.

"I know the dog has been through a lot of trauma and is looking for a happy home," Jones said. "An animal like that, with such abuse, the end result is to make sure he's comfortable."