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‘He’s just so loving’: Emaciated dog finds home

March 31, 2018

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Lisa Schaunaman couldn’t believe the shape the yellow Labrador was in.

Schaunaman first saw him on Craigslist, where an Egan couple posted his photo and told the story of how he’d wandered up to their door two weeks earlier.

She knew he was in rough shape, but she still wasn’t prepared for what she saw when she picked him up recently in the parking lot of the Lewis Drug store.

He was emaciated, his skin wrapped tight around his ribs at his chest. She saw open sores on his body and tail and a worn camouflage collar without an ID tag around his neck. She’d soon learned he was deaf.

“We call him Old Yeller because he’s in such bad shape,” Schaunaman said.

He’s recovering with high-calorie puppy food and medication after several trips to the vet, Schaunaman said, but “he might still have to be put down.”

Schaunaman reached out to the Argus Leader recently, hoping to find out who’d neglected him and let him loose. She said she can barely believe that a pet owner would treat a kind dog so poorly.

“Even after all he’s been through, he’s so loving,” she said.

Schaunaman considers the Egan couple who saved Old Yeller, his “guardian angels.”

Starla Thacker posted about the yellow lab on social media sites, trying to find the dog’s owner. She and her husband also took Old Yeller, who they named James, to the vet and tried to help him gain weight.

Thacker gave herself a week to find his owner, and then she let Shaunaman try to help him.

“If we lost our dog we’d want someone to be looking for us to return her,” Thacker said. “We were just trying to do the right thing.”

Thacker’s 10-year-old daughter found Old Yeller when she took the family’s dog out for a walk. She found him wandering near the house, patted him on the head and that was enough for him to stick around, Thacker said.

It was obvious to Thacker that the dog was at one point part of a loving family by the way he behaved around her children and how he was house trained, which made it more confusing how he ended up at their doorstep.

Schaunaman would like to know how her new pet came to be so emaciated.

Prosecutions for animal neglect are rare in Sioux Falls, although reports of neglect are more common.

Last year, Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan’s office prosecuted seven cases involving 11 defendants. Since 2013, there have been a total of 35 cases involving 40 separate defendants.

Sioux Falls Animal Control responds to about 15 complaints each month, but those cases of suspected neglect don’t always lead to prosecution, according to Animal Control officer Missy John.

About half of the time, the suspected neglect is due to medical conditions. Most of the time, calls are an opportunity to educate residents about animal care, she said.

Kori Bade, executive director of the Humane Society, said the organization sees about 200 cases of animal neglect out of about 8,000 to 10,000 animals they take in each year.

“Sioux Falls is not immune to issues like neglect and abuse,” Bade said. “But the biggest thing we try to do is education. If you find an animal, you should make sure it’s not someone else’s animal before you do anything.”

Bade said calling the Humane Society or Animal Control should be the first step after finding an animal to see if someone is looking for their pet.

Schaunaman plans to check if Old Yeller has a locating chip when she brings him back to the vet. But her primary concern is helping him gain weight.

“We don’t know how long we’ll have him,” Shaunaman said. “But we’re going to make the best of a bad situation and keep him comfortable.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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