MISSOURI -- Animals, particularly domesticated ones, have such a way of offering up unconditional love, that it seems almost inconceivable anyone could purposefully harm them. It is even worse when the animal being abused was once a service dog.
However, that is reportedly at the heart of a matter currently in the hands of the Kennett Humane Department (KHD). KHD Officer, Tena Petix, said the recent case clearly illustrates the fact that animal cruelty and neglect is an urgent, ongoing problem within the Kennett city limits.
On Friday, citations and a warrant for a dog were issued to Kennett residents, Crystal D. Holloway and Robert J. Holloway, on two counts, each, of violating the city's animal health and safety, and vicious animal ordinances.
In a report filed with the Kennett Police Department and released through the city attorney's office, Petix said she responded to a neighbor's call about a red Doberman Pinscher, located on Wimberly Street. The caller stated that the dog was being forced to live in such poor conditions, and neglected to the point of starvation, that she could not bear watching it anymore.
Petix said when she arrived at the residence, she was initially confused, because there was a healthy, aggressive pit bull chained in the front side yard. However, as she drove around the residence, Petix said she could then see into the back yard and was both shocked and outraged at what she found there.
"It looked like a skeleton painted brown, in the northwest corner of the back yard," said Petix. "It was heartbreaking to see this animal in such a pitiful state, while in the front yard, the pit was healthy and well fed."
In her report, Petix said that when Mr. Holloway came to the door, she asked if she could go into the back yard to see where the dog was being housed. The report described the area as bare dirt, scraped free of any grass by the chain the dog had been tethered to, while pacing back back and forth. The report went on to say that the dog was living in an undersized pet carrier and drinking green water from a bowl, with no visible food.
"It was in such an emaciated state, that all of its bones were visible," said Petix, with tears in her eyes, as she recently talked about the discovery. "And, in some places, the skin had broken down, and the bones were (showing) through."
Petix said that, at first, the owners said the dog had become that emaciated over the last week.
"There was no way the dog could get that thin in a week." Petix said. "It had been abused over a very long period of time."
Petix said the Holloways refused to surrender the dog, and that, by the time KHD was able to procure the warrant, the couple had taken the dog to Dr. Carol Brigance, at the Kennett Veterinary Clinic.
"The dog needed medical attention, but Dr. Brigance said the Holloways claimed they couldn't afford it and were taking the animal with them," said Petix. "The doctor asked the Holloways several times to surrender the animal to KHD, but they continued to refuse."
Petix was eventually able to serve the couple with the warrant and take the dog. She said that, after speaking further with the pair, she found out they had purchased the Doberman, named "Rusty," from CraigsList, for $100, about a year ago.
"He was a service dog (therapy animal) for autistic children. If that it true, it is sad to see this animal, who did so much for children of special needs, reduced to this condition."
Petix went on to say that Dr. Brigance felt Rusty, at one time, had lived in a caring home, because his teeth were in very good shape for an animal of his age, approximately five to seven years old.
"He has minimal heart worms, and that's because of not being on some type of heart worm preventative over the past year," added Petix. "However, he is neutered. Also, on the brighter side, since we have had him, he has gained four pounds in four days."
She added that, after putting together a soft bed for Rusty, she had to wrap in him blankets, because his body temperature had dropped so low. Petix described Rusty's demeanor as very gentle.
The KHD report stated that the Holloways are scheduled to appear in the Municipal Court on Wednesday, Oct. 8. Petix said Rusty will remain in the care and custody of the city.
"He deserves better, and we would like to get him to a rescue that focuses on the specific care of older dogs," she said. "He should be able to live out his days, well cared-for and happy."
Petix added that KHD appreciates the help it continues to receive from the community, surrounding areas, and throughout the country.
"Right now, we have three dogs that are being vetted at the KenMo Veterinary Clinic and the Kennett Veterinary Clinic," she said. "We have had so many that have been brought in, in poor condition due to neglect and abuse, that within just the last week, we have had five under vet care."
Petix said Rusty will continue to require medical care for a while, but that he gradually continues to improve and gain weight.
Medical donations for KHD may be made directly to both local veterinary clinics. For more information about donations or adoption, contact Petix at 573-888-4622, or visit the KHD Facebook page.
(Daily Dunklin Democrat - Sept 30, 2014)