WARREN COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - The Humane Assocation of Warren County is petitioning for harsher animal cruelty punishments after taking in a dog they said was so abused it died.
The executive director, Joanne Hurley, said there is no shortage of adoptable pets at their facility, but unfortunately, there is no shortage of cruelty cases either.
“It’s hard every single time," said Hurley.
Hurley thought she had seen it all until she saw a 10-year-old Forest the dog.
“One of the worst cases I have seen where the animal is still alive," said Hurley.
The Chihuahua-Terrier came to them with a long list of unhealthy issues, according to Hurley. She said the dog’s teeth were rotting away, and he had severe bladder stones and a broken leg that was matted up to his back.
“He had about 1 inch of feces packed into his paw pads," said Hurley. "He had nails as long as my fingers. He was in really terrible shape.”
Even after the association took Forest in, Hurley said his health problems persisted until they eventually took his life.
“To lose him on the road to recovery was really hard for all of us," said Hurley.
Though Forest was initially brought in as a “stray” dog, Hurley said they figured out that he actually had been in a home -- it just was not a good one.
“Not only was his little body broken, but his spirit was broken," said Hurley. "He had spent years in a cage with no human interaction.”
Forest’s owner, Hurley said, is now facing criminal charges. That is what prompted Hurley and her team to start a petition they are turning over to the prosecutor. They want the judge to crack down on cruelty and set a precedent for the future.
“We put (the petition) out to ask for the maximum penalties allowable by law," said Hurley.
They expected a few hundred signatures, but ended up gathering more than 4,000 from people all over the country and all over the world. It is a bittersweet feeling for those who tried to save Forest.
“Unfortunately, here, you see the best in the people and you see the worst in people," said Eli Hurley, the Social Media Manager for the Humane Association of Warren County.
It is inspiring them to keep expanding and keep fighting to hopefully someday soon change the laws.
“Hopefully this will bring justice to Forest,” said Eli.
Hurley said Forest’s owner has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The owner’s name has not been released.