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Found chained, Elsa the pit bull prepares for adoption

April 2, 2018

AIKEN, S.C. (AP) — The pit bull with the nearly all white coat, blue eyes and constantly wagging tail is known as a “human-loving machine” around the SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare.

Elsa enjoys being patted, kissed and cuddled. She also is full of energy and likes to play.

“She’s a sweet, sweet dog,” said Ann Kinney, director of training and enrichment for the SPCA. “We’ve never seen her show fear or aggression. She also is very tolerant of other dogs.”

Elsa has some physical scars from her tragic past, but emotionally, “we think she’s going to be fine,” said SPCA President and CEO Barbara Nelson.

In January, Aiken Department of Public Safety officers, who went to a house on Newberry Street for a safety check, found Elsa chained to a pole and shivering in the backyard.

Nearby, there was a cage with a dead puppy inside that was “frozen solid,” according to the incident report.

The temperature, at the time, was 15 degrees.

After being confiscated by the officers, Elsa was taken to the SPCA.

“She obviously had been neglected,” Nelson said. “She was starving, and her ribs were showing. There were sores on her body.”

Estimated by the SPCA to be 3 to 5 years of age, Elsa also had severely cropped ears.

“She wasn’t born that way,” Nelson said. “They look like they were cut with scissors.”

Robyn Denise Bacon is charged with ill treatment of animals, which is violation of state law, in connection with Elsa and the puppy’s case.

According to a General Sessions Court consent order dated Feb. 8 and filed Feb. 22, Bacon surrendered “any right, title or interest” in Elsa without admitting that she was the legal owner of the dog.

The SPCA’s staff is in the process of doing a complete evaluation of Elsa’s temperament and preparing her to be placed on the adoption floor.

“What we’re doing with Elsa is pretty much the same thing we do with any dog that comes through our shelter,” Kinney said. “We’re working on teaching her how to learn behaviors like sit, lie down and wait, and then use those behaviors to fit in well in the human world. We also want her to develop a coping mechanism for the stresses of new places, people and things.”

So far, Elsa has been an enthusiastic student and eager to please.

“She was chained up for a long time, so when she gets a chance to move, she surges,” Kinney said. “But I’ve been working with her, and she does pretty darn well when she’s on a leash.”

Elsa has gained weight, but is still thinner than normal, so Kinney would like to see her put on a few more pounds before she starts meeting potential new owners.

Kinney also wants to get a better idea of what types of dogs Elsa gets along with best in case someone who wants her already has a canine companion.

“I think she would do well with of a male of her size or maybe even with one that is bigger or smaller,” Kinney said. “I would never put her in home with another female — a replica of herself — because if things were going to go poorly, it would be with that combination. We want to make sure she is in the best environment possible so she will be successful.”

In addition, “we’re going to be very careful about who we let adopt her,” Nelson said. “Every dog, like every human, has a different personality, and we want to match her up with the right person, someone who will love her, value her and want her as a friend.”

After Public Safety officers rescued Elsa and seized the dead puppy, an upset Nelson sent a letter to the Aiken Standard describing people who mistreat animals as “monsters.” She also called for City of Aiken to pass tethering regulations.

Discussing Elsa’s former situation still makes Nelson angry.

“This lack of respect for animal lives and emotional callousness toward a suffering living being, it just cannot be tolerated by a civilized society,” she said. “There have to be consequences for what seems to be this pattern of inhumane disregard and lack of responsibility.”

Nelson also praised Public Safety, S.C. 2nd Judicial Circuit Solicitor Strom Thurmond Jr. and 2nd Judicial Circuit Deputy Solicitor David Miller “for taking an active role in pursuing this case” against Bacon.

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Information from: Aiken Standard, http://www.aikenstandard.com

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