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‘Rumor’ recovering at SPCA
Emaciated dog was found alone in pen

Thursday, March 21, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Henry County animal control officers and the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA are working to save a dog that was found penned and near starvation.

Henry County Sheriff’s Lt. Ben Rea said the case is “somewhat unique in the fact that not only was the animal in need of food and water and medical care, but (it was) simply left alone ... penned up” and unable to forage for food or water.

“It was lucky that a neighbor called about another dog and this particular dog was found by the officer while the officer was investigating that complaint,” he said.

Animal control officers seized the 3-year-old female pit bull terrier mix earlier this month and took it to a veterinarian for treatment and evaluation.

The dog’s owner pleaded guilty in Henry County General District Court earlier this month to a misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, all suspended; a $500 fine; and $91 in court costs.

After the court proceeding, the dog was transferred to the Martinsville-Henry County SPCA, where the staff has named the dog “Rumor,” according to Rea and a release from the SPCA.

Chase Inman, the SPCA’s marketing director and volunteer coordinator, said the dog “was in very poor condition. ... She weighed only 34 pounds and had ulcers all over her body.”

The dog’s spine, rib cage and the plates of her skull were visible, Inman said.

“The severe emaciation is taking time to combat, and the ulcers are so deep that her body is having a difficult time mending itself,” she added.

Rumor is being housed in the SPCA, where she is receiving nourishment and medical attention, Inman said. Hopefully, she will make a full recovery and can be adopted, she added.

Rea said cases of abuse are not unusual. “Our guys work hard, and they deal with calls of this nature on a normal basis,” he said.

Whenever possible, the people responsible are prosecuted, Rea said. “These cases do come up from time to time (and) some are more serious than others.”

When animal control officers respond to calls and find animals that are “in bad shape” and seize them, Rea said the animals are taken to a veterinarian who determines if they can be saved, “if they are treatable, adoptable and if they can be rehabilitated.”

If those conditions are met, the veterinarian works to save the animal, he said.

In those cases, costs are paid by the sheriff’s office, Rea said. The fees “are our responsibility. Once we seize, feed or take an animal in, then it’s our responsibility,” he said.

If the SPCA takes an animal for treatment, the SPCA assumes responsibility for and pays those costs, he added.

After a case is heard in court, if applicable, Rea said custody of the animal can be transferred to the SPCA.

Animal control is mandated to hold an animal for a specific amount of time, Rea said.

If a court case is not pending and when the mandatory holding period expires, “we give the dog to the SPCA,” which cares for the animal until it is adopted, he said.

“But for the most part, the SPCA really technically can’t have the animal until” the mandatory holding time has expired and/or the case has been heard in court, Rea said. Responsibility for feeding and caring for the animal rests solely with the county during that time, he added.

“Normally it’s about 50/50” split for treatment costs, Rea said.

He noted that during the recent court proceeding, the $500 fine will be evenly split between the SPCA and the animal control office, Rea said. Those funds may or may not partially offset the amount of money the county paid to the veterinarian.

Leslie Hervey, executive director of the SPCA, said the agency has an Angel Fund to help with the “much needed medical attention of animals like Rumor when they begin their rehabilitation process.” For more information or to donate to the Angel Fund, call the SPCA at 638-7297 or mail a donation to: SPCA of Martinsville-Henry County, 132 Joseph Martin Highway, Martinsville, Va. 24112.

To report suspected abuse or neglect, call 638-8751.


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