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Old January 20th, 2003, 02:56 PM
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Badly abused dog back on three feet

Badly abused dog back on three feet
By Scott Smith


LATHROP -- Angel is a spry 9-month-old Labrador mix and very curious about her new home at the Lathrop animal shelter, Pets & Pals.

But volunteers tending to her recovery say she's still a little leery of people who make sudden moves.

And rightly so.

Not long ago, a woman riding a horse along Clarke Road in a rural part of San Joaquin County east of Stockton discovered the blond puppy somebody had left for dead.

The dog had been bound with twine and wrapped in a black plastic bag. The skin on one side of her body showed signs the dog had been burned, a veterinary report says.

Maggots starting to collect on the open lacerations and severe dehydration were signs to veterinarians the dog, whom they named Angel for her amazing recovery, had been abandoned three days earlier.

That was Dec. 1, 2002. Five days later, a hind leg was amputated to spare her from threats of gangrene. Today, Angel's coat is growing back, and, moving on three legs, she chases a ball with no difficulty.

"We have had cases of abused animals like this in the past," said Sue Molen, executive director of Pets & Pals in Lathrop. "It is rare to see cases so severe like this."

Pets & Pals has set up a $2,000 reward for anybody who provides information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person who abused Angel.

Pets & Pals will place Angel in a loving home once she is ready, Molen said.

Unfortunately, says Officer Steve Thomas of the San Joaquin County Animal Control, Angel's case is not unique. San Joaquin County is known widely as the "capital of dumped animals" for the high number of abandoned animals, Thomas said.

"I've seen others like that, maybe not so drastic, but they're out there," Thomas said.

Last year, San Joaquin County Animal Control arrested only one person from among the numerous reports of abuse it investigated, Thomas said.

The penalty for animal abuse varies from case to case, he said, depending on the severity of the abuse and the offender's age. Animal abuse can be a felony, bringing a fine and a jail sentence of up to two years.

In days following the discovery of Angel, animal control officers carpeted the area and followed up on tips from citizens. But they were not able to make an arrest, he said.

"Hopefully, somebody comes forward," Thomas said.

The courts don't take animal cruelty seriously enough, according to Irene Porsch, a volunteer at Pets & Pals.

"When people do this to animals, they go on to do it to people," said Porsch, who also works part-time at the Associated Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Stockton, where Angel was treated.
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