On June 30, 2015, a pitbull puppy was brought to TLC Pet Doctor, in Union by a good Samaritan, stating that he had found the dog in his brother’s backyard on West End Avenue in Newark. The receptionist contacted the veterinarian, stating that she thought the puppy was dead. Dr. Karen Negrin, DVM and owner of TLC Pet Doctor, ran to the front room to find a about 6 months old, male, not neutered grey with white markings pitbull puppy whose eyes were fixed and dilated. A quick examination in the waiting room revealed that the puppy’s heart was still beating although he was unresponsive to stimulation. The puppy was carried into the surgery room where an intravenous catheter was placed, dextrose (sugar solution) was added to the intravenous fluids and intravenous midazolam was given to stop the seizures that the puppy was showing due to low sugar. (Note: the puppy was so weak at the time of admittance that the only sign of seizures were the eyes twitching slightly.) The puppy was given a poor prognosis and admitted to the hospital in an attempt to save his life. The puppy was also wearing a collar that had slipped off of his neck and had wrapped around his front leg cutting the right armpit region. (Photos of the collar and the injury are included in this article in the slideshow.) Later that night, groaning could be heard coming from the puppy’s cage. The puppy was conscious but unable to rise. Food was placed in his cage but the puppy could not lift up his head to eat it. He had to be held up initially to eat and ate ravenously, grabbing at fingers in his attempt to eat as much as possible quickly.
Dr. Negrin, contacted the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty (NJSPCA) as well as Associated Humane Society (AHS) Animal Control Officer John DiStano for assistance in investigating the case of animal cruelty. The case was assigned to Newark SPCA Agent Mike Capano and Corporal Frank Rizzo. Information that was provided by the finder as well as information obtained by the officers have not led to anyone being charged for starving this puppy, which was named “Sam” due to being found close to the the 4th of July holiday.
Sam began his long journey to recovery at TLC. It took a week before Sam was able to stand on his own but would fall over if he tried to take any steps. Members of 911 Dog and Cat Rescue, a nonprofit animal rescue in Morristown, made donations of toys/treats and blankets for Sam. They also came to visit with him. Videos of his progress can be viewed on the TLC Pet Doctor’s facebook page.
Daily care of Sam included feeding 4 – 12 oz dog food cans, plus dry food left in the cage for him to eat as he wanted, penicillin injections for the first week while the intravenous fluids were given as supportive care and trying to get Sam to stand/walk. Within a week, Sam was walking/running on his own. Even though the cage was padded down with several thick blankets, Sam developed bed sores, and there was thought that the skin lesions may be permanent. Slowly, Sam began gaining weight and became stronger. Within a month, Sam was weighing 30 lbs. Within 2 months, Sam was weighing 42 lbs and fit into the collar that he was initially wearing, suggesting that the puppy was possibly about that weight at some time in his life prior to being found in the starved condition.
Since not enough evidence was found to charge anyone, the NJSPCA allowed the puppy to be put up for adoption. Daniel’s Dream Dog Rescue, a nonprofit adoption agency, was contacted to perform the screening for a foster home/possible permanent home for Sam. 911 Dog and Cat Rescue also assisted in sorting potential adopters. Eventually, Sam’s new owner was found. James Santiago became Sam’s, now called Cam, new owner. Cam lives with a Cairn Terrier, named “Nelly” in Linden, NJ.
Animal Cruelty is a serious crime. Many criminals begin with abusing animals and increase to domestic violence and/or become serial killers. It is not a crime to be taken lightly. This case is still open. Anyone with information regarding this case and any other animal cruelty case can contact the NJSPCA at 1-800-582-5979. Anonymous tips welcomed.
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