Saturday, December 31, 2016

West Virginia: Christa Hughes pleads not guilty to starving her dog nearly to death; dog slowly recovering

HANCOCK COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA -- A woman accused of animal cruelty made her initial appearance in court on Tuesday morning.

Christa L. Hughes entered a not guilty plea in Hancock County Magistrate Court.

Meanwhile, the dog she’s accused of neglecting has gained weight, and officials are hoping for a happy ending.

“It's a crime against someone that can't help themselves, so that's always concerning,” said Nichole Felouzis, humane officer and dog warden for Hancock County.

Last month, you could count the dog’s ribs. Someone who knew of his condition reported it, and law enforcement got involved.

“Once we got possession of the dog, we took pictures, we put the dog on a feeding regimen and tried to quickly get him into a foster home,” Felouzis said. “Situations like this work a little bit better out of the shelter and in a foster home so they can receive 24-hour care.”

The foster family now calls the 2-year-old Labrador Fred. He gained 28 pounds, and still has some to go, but officials are optimistic.

“The dog was in such good spirits and through this whole thing has been so sweet and loving and nice, it's kind of sad to see that he was in that condition and still is so happy to see people,” Felouzis said. “This one will have a good ending, that's the good part of it.”

Hughes said the dog lost weight because of illness, but a vet found no evidence of that. Also, she had no proof that she had taken the dog to a vet for needed medical care.

She's due back in court next month.

(WTOV9 - December 31, 2016)