Wednesday, March 1, 2017

South Carolina: Burned dog found in St. George found forever home in Heaven

SOUTH CAROLINA -- Representatives of the Frances Willis SPCA have confirmed a dog they hoped to rescue Tuesday has died from its injuries.

Those with the SPCA say the dog appeared to be a terrier mix, and had lost a lot of hair. The evidence of burns on his body was clear. Frances R. Willis executive director Kim Almstedt said the dog was also severely emaciated.

In a press release issued Tuesday evening, Almstedt said the organization had hoped for a "Cinderella story," but they didn't get the one they expected.

The dog named Michael (after the angel), was burned with what workers believe was gasoline. He was found wandering off Quaker Road in St. George and was dropped off at the animal shelter by Dorchester County Animal Control at around 10 a.m.

In addition to the burns, those working to rescue the dog said there were other markings indicating abuse. Michael was taken from the Frances R. Willis SPCA in Summerville to a vet clinic in Charleston for treatment.

"They were waiting for us when we arrived. As we watched Michael go in on a stretcher, we knew we did the absolute right thing by giving him a chance to seek the best care... As each test came back with a more dire and bleak outcome, we were forced to think about the end goal," Almstedt said.

The goal of the Frances Willis SPCA is to find every animal a forever home. Almstedt said Michael endured too much and reached his forever home "in heaven."

According to state law, a person found guilty of intentional animal abuse that inflicts excessive pain, suffering or death is guilty of felony. The sentence is no less than 180 in jail and does not exceed five years in prison and a fine of $5,000.

Officials with Dorchester County Animal Control say the investigation into Michael's condition is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the animal control office at 843-832-0015.

Complete statement from France Willis SPCA executive director Kim Almstedt
Far too often, only stories that have a happy ending are told. Although, not the typical “Cinderella story,” I want to share this dog’s story because it deserves to be told and he deserves to be called a hero.

Early Tuesday morning, Dorchester County Animal Control rushed to Frances R. Willis SPCA with a severely emaciated dog that appeared to have been burned with gasoline after responding to a call that the dog had wandered on to a woman’s front porch in St. George. County Spokeswoman Tiffany Norton confirmed Animal Control officers responded to the residence, at the request of the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office.

The dog, named Michael (named from the movie Michael about an angel, from FRW SPCA staff), is estimated to be between 1 and two-years old. After taking a glimpse inside Melissa’s truck from Animal Control, our team immediately went into action. He could barely walk and therefore was carried into our clinic. He was given pain medication and fluids immediately as Dr. John Price, FRW SPCA veterinarian, looked him over. The prognosis was either immediate euthanasia due to his obvious pain and suffering or take a leap of faith and get him to a specialist.

Within minutes, we had him in the car and we headed to Charleston Veterinary Referral Center. They were waiting for us when we arrived. As we watched Michael go in on a stretcher, we knew we did the absolute right thing by giving him a chance to seek the best care. A jugular catheter was inserted, blood was taken, multiple labs were performed. As each test came back with a more dire and bleak outcome, we were forced to think about the end goal.

At Frances R. Willis SPCA, the end goal for every animal who crosses our gate is to find their forever home. Michael is in his forever home. His timeline to “recovery” and “normal, adoptable” status was never going to matriculate. He had endured too much. For Michael, he is in his forever home in heaven.

As hard as it is to know this isn’t the Cinderella story everybody was hoping for, THIS is what we do. We try to heal as we hope. We find homes for all animals in Dorchester County. We did everything we could and even though this dog in critical condition passed, his last moments were surrounded by love and compassion. For a brief moment, I have to believe he felt my hands on his back and knew he was loved. His past, whatever happened, was now truly in the past. His future is bright and filled with no pain.

Michael is still a prince in my eyes. He is still deserving of the “Cinderella” story. There is no doubt in my mind he was neglected. There is no doubt somebody, somewhere knows something. I truly hope this story makes a point, animal neglect is unacceptable and we will go to every depth it takes to find out information on what happened.

Frances R. Willis has begun a $500 reward to information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person(s) involved.

We at Frances R. Willis SPCA continue to house hundreds of animals and Michael will always be a part of us. If you would like to donate to our healing hearts fund, which is our emergency medical fund, please know the donations received will go towards the many animals who need emergency medical care, just like Michael.

An investigation is currently ongoing and Norton said Animal Control is currently searching for the dog’s owner. Anyone with information on the case is asked to call Dorchester County Animal Control at 843-563-0015.

Lastly, as I sit here writing this letter, I want everybody to know the length we went to for Michael. He is a hero and will always be remembered as such. He is the prince charming of neglect cases as his last moments were overflowing with love and he overcame hate and neglect.

Heavy hearted,
Kim Almstedt, Executive Director

(ABCNews4 - Feb 28, 2017)