April 24, 2014

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Reward offered for information on starved dog

Veterinarian assistant Ashley Wearsch holds up the head of Herbie on Dec. 6.

LORAIN — The Humane Society of the United States has offered a reward of up to $5,000 for information it hopes will help find and prosecute whoever abused and starved a pit bull found barely alive earlier this month on a Lorain street.

Such rewards are not uncommon for the organization to make, according to Karen Minton, Ohio state director for the society.

“Especially in cases of such egregious animal cruelty,” Minton said Thursday when the reward was announced.

“We hope this act is an incentive to bring information forward to see justice done by holding those responsible for such cruelty,” Minton said.

The male dog, who was given the name Herbie after being rescued, is continuing to recover in the care of the Lorain Animal Clinic.

“He’s responding very well,” Alyssa Pataky, a receptionist at the veterinary practice, said.

“He went outside today for the first time and laid in the sun,” Pataky said. “He’s walking on his own.”

And Herbie has gained weight, moving from the 25 to 30 pounds he weighed when found on West 11th Street to nearly 50 pounds.

“He’s getting better every day,” Pataky said.

When the dog was found, police said it was the worst case of neglect and cruelty they had ever seen.

The dog’s head was extremely swollen because of a puncture wound, and its bones were easily visible through its skin.

Police believe the dog had been abandoned.

Police checked out a number of leads but have yet to find the dog’s owner.

Herbie will eventually be healthy enough to be put up for adoption, but that is at least a few months away, according to Pataky.

“We haven’t even had him looked at by a specialist to determine if he’ll need surgery or anything,” Pataky said.

Such extreme cases of animal cruelty should serve to again raise awareness of what Minton termed Ohio’s “relatively anemic animal welfare laws.”

“Ohio is toward the bottom of the barrel in this regard in its penalties for such horrific crimes,” Minton said. “Even if an animal is injured, maimed, tortured or killed on a first offense, it’s a misdemeanor,” Minton said, noting such crimes are felonies punishable by jail time in other states.

Attempts to pass stricter animal cruelty laws in Ohio have so far met with failure, she said.

One such attempt is House Bill 108, which would make it illegal for kennel owners, managers or employees to abuse or neglect pets in their care. Those found guilty of doing so could face felony charges, and give judges discretion to put limitations on their ability to operate kennels in the future.

Known as Nitro’s Law, the bill comes in response to a horrific 2008 incident at a Mahoning County kennel where more than a dozen dogs were found dead or dying from extreme neglect.

The measure passed the Ohio House in February but has sat in a Senate committee since, apparently because of lack of support.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.