SAGINAW, MI – Two months ago, a Good Samaritan couple saw an obese senior dog lying on the side of Interstate 675, covered in maggots and other insects.
The dog’s plight was then covered by People Magazine.
Now three people have been charged with animal cruelty for their alleged roles in the dog’s dire condition, while the dog itself has found a new home.
Just before 9 p.m. on July 12, two people driving on I-675 near Exit 3 at Saginaw spotted an Australian Shepherd mix standing still near the side of the road, covered in midges, flies and ticks.
They stopped and approached the dog, finding he was still alive, said Bonnie Kanicki, director of animal care and control for Saginaw County.
Citizens called the Saginaw County Central Dispatch, who in turn notified the Animal Control ranger officer.
“She was unable to walk,” Kanicki said of the dog when her officer approached. âShe smelled like a bad odor, which we later learned was infected flesh. She had two open wounds covered with maggot eggs and live maggots. She was covered with an excessive amount of feces, tangled in her fur.
The dog, who is believed to be between 12 and 13, also weighed 77.5 pounds. A healthy weight for her would have been between 50 and 55 pounds, Kanicki said.
The animal control officer took the dog to Great Lakes Pet Emergencies, 1221 Tittabawassee Road, for veterinary care. Vets could not determine the origin of the dog’s two injuries, Kanicki said.
The dog had been microchipped, although the owner found using the chip told officers she relocated the dog some time ago, Kanicki said. This former owner, however, provided agents with the dog’s name: Belky.
Soon after, someone came to the shelter looking for Belky, saying the dog belonged to a friend. Officers eventually learned the identity of this friend, Courtney S. Frost, 23, a Zilwaukee resident, and questioned her.
âWe learned that she and her mother are the rightful owners of the dog,â Kanicki said. As to why Belky was thrown by the side of the road, Frost didn’t say, Kanicki said.
âWe just don’t know why; they just gave it up, âKanicki said. âIt was actually very sad. We predict that it was probably because of his medical needs. She needed urgent medical attention. Instead of giving her the care she needed and deserved, they chose to throw her on the side of the road to be killed or potentially cause a car accident.
Before anyone was criminally charged with regard to Belky’s condition, People Magazine ran an article on September 7 detailing Belky’s ordeal and subsequent rescue.
On September 15, authorities issued arrest warrants for Frost, his mother Heidi M. Mayle, 49, and Mayle’s boyfriend, Robert L. Fournier, 54. All three reside in the same residence in Zilwaukee, according to records.
Police arrested the trio on September 17, and they posted bail the same day.
All three appeared Thursday (September 23) in Saginaw County District Court on indictment on one count of animal cruelty or abandonment of an animal. The charge is a felony punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of $ 500.
Belky, meanwhile, has found a new home.
With her injuries healed and 16 pounds having been lost, Belky was medically cleared for adoption.
She transferred to the Humane Society of Midland County, which hosted an âEmpty Shelterâ adoption event on August 19.
Bay City resident Breanna L. Dalton, upon learning of Belky’s age and medical issues, was taken with the dog and adopted her.
âThe thought of her spending the rest of her life in a shelter broke my heart,â said Dalton. “I’m doing just as well financially at the moment and I knew I could afford any medication or treatment she might need.”
Belky quickly got used to her new home, Dalton said.
âBelky has been great,â she said. âI grew up with dogs and he’s one of the best-behaved dogs I’ve ever had. Her personality is great, she loves everyone she meets and she is always on the lookout for pets. When I come home from work she does a whole body dance / squirm which always makes my day.
Belky has thyroid disease for which she will need medication for the rest of her life, but all of her injuries have healed, Dalton said.
“She walks wonderfully and her hair has grown back – it had to be completely shaved off to be able to heal her wounds and the maggots she had,” said Dalton. “When I originally got her she was having trouble walking up and down the stairs to my house and was leaning on my leg for support, but in the last week or so she started to take them down on her own. “
Dalton said she could tell from Belky’s demeanor that she had been treated at some point in her life.
“But at the end of the day how (the previous owners) decided to get rid of her is what matters most here and they made the wrong call, especially since it only takes one call. phone a shelter or the Humane Society to see if they can take a dog in and find a better or more suitable home for it, âshe said.
Future hearing dates for Frost, Mayle and Fournier are pending.
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