By Eric Betz, Arizona Daily Sun
A dog that allegedly was abandoned alone in a home by its owner in April has been euthanized after more than a month at the shelter and a failed attempt to keep it in a rescue foster home.
A 33-year-old Flagstaff woman identified by police as Ronnie Dickson is being charged with intentionally committing animal cruelty as a result of the case.
Dickson was served a summons to appear in city court this week, and if she pleads not guilty, a trial will follow, said Kimberly Ott, a spokesperson for the city of Flagstaff.
As reported by the Arizona Daily Sun in April, an anonymous neighbor had called Flagstaff police to say that the residents of an East Verkamp Street home had moved out several weeks earlier, but that a white pit bull named Baby still appeared in the window every time someone walked past the home.
When a police officer got to the home, the dog showed up in the front window to greet him, a report said. The officer reportedly learned that the dog's owners were in a domestic dispute and had moved out, though many of their belongings, including children's toys, some furniture and a large amount of trash, were still in the home.
The officer broke into the home through the garage door and the animal dog came running to him when he whistled. The report said that the animal was whimpering and its ribs were showing, but said that the animal was happy to see him.
The reporting officer described the smell of feces and urine as overwhelming inside and said there was some food in a dog dish and an empty water bowl.
The animal was brought to the Coconino Humane Association and reported to be dehydrated, but was recovering well at the time.
OWNER TRACKED DOWN
Flagstaff police struggled to track down the owner, but were able to contact Dickson with a number listed under an alias of Ronnie King.
According to the police report, the woman said that after she and her husband separated, she had to move in with a friend who wasn't allowed to have dogs. But she contended that she had been going to care for the dog every day, and had brought the dog water the previous day.
Dickson said she had wanted to turn the dog over to the pound, but thought they charged a fee. The officer told the woman that the Humane Association does not charge a fee and said police could have assisted her.
The officer also informed Dickson that neighbors said they hadn't seen her around in weeks and that he was charging her with animal cruelty based on the unacceptable living conditions in the home.
Dickson surrendered the animal to the shelter within several days of Baby being brought in.
DEPRESSED AND NOT EATING
The Humane Association said that Baby soon appeared to be severely depressed and stopped eating. The animal was kept at the shelter for more than a month without being adopted and the shelter placed it in a temporary foster home to see if it would recover.
However, the dog showed sings of aggression toward other animals at the foster home and was returned to the shelter.
The amount of stress the dog went through would be tough for any animal to face, said the Humane Association's Michelle Ryan. She added that pit bulls are among the breeds that struggle the most at a shelter and can start going "kennel crazy."
Animals are euthanized when they are aggressive or in bad health, and when the shelter is out of space, the association says. When a call has to be made to euthanize an animal for space, they'll typically go for an animal that isn't eating or isn't doing well in the shelter.
Baby would have fit those criteria.
"We have a great adoption rate and we try to do everything we can for an animal," Ryan said. It's always hard to euthanize an animal, Ryan said, especially once you've invested so much into the animal emotionally and know its story.
Ryan said that whereas other shelters can turn away troubled animals instead of having to euthanize, the Humane Association is under contract with the county to take any animal despite its disposition.