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Arrest made in Wis. starving dog case

Gabriel was emaciated and near death when the mixed breed dog arrived at the Dunn County Humane Society Nov. 1.

BOYCEVILLE, Wis. — Editor's note: An earlier version of this story detailed charges against the suspect. Those charges have been recommended by police, but have not yet been filed.

The pictures are jarring and difficult to look at, prompting for many a sense of anger and a heartfelt question.

How could anyone allow a pet to get into this condition? 

Gabriel was emaciated and near death when the mixed breed dog arrived at the Dunn County Humane Society Nov. 1. 

“I'm a certified humane officer for the state of Wisconsin and in six years here, this is the worst case I had ever seen in terms of emaciation. He was skeletal,” said Josh Dalton, Executive Director of the Dunn County Humane Society. “You do body condition scoring, that's how it works in this field. So there's a 1-9 score. One being skeletal, barely alive. That's what he was.”

But with round-the-clock care Gabriel began a journey back to wellness, and has put on 20 pounds in just 11 days. 

The quest to prosecute the person responsible for what happened to Gabriel is also progressing. Boyceville Police Chief Greg Lamkin says he is recommending that the 29-year-old woman be charged with felony mistreatment of an animal causing disfigurement, and another count of depriving an animal of food and water. 

Lamkin says the suspect was actually the person who surrendered Gabriel to the humane society, saying she had found him in a remote area near State Highway 79 and County Road J in the Township of Sherman. Through the course of the investigation police learned that the dog belonged to the woman, who is 8 1/2 months pregnant and has two small children. With a relationship recently ended Lamkin says the woman moved to a new residence, leaving Gabriel behind in a wire kennel.

She told investigators that the dog had been sick, and she had been feeding him three times a day. Lamkin says Gabriel's recovery at the humane society suggests those claims are false. 

"We cannot express enough how grateful we are that justice will be served in this case as no living creature deserves to be treated in the way Gabriel had been," Dunn County Humane Society officials said in a news release. "It is clear that our community, both locally and online, will not stand idly by and allow crimes against animals to continue without repercussions. Your voices have been heard loud and clear."

Less than two weeks after being dropped off Gabriel is no longer skin and bones, is improving in energy and muscle tone, and those caring for him at the Dunn County Humane Society say his "sweet disposition and fun personality are coming out more and more each day." A video posted on the society website says Gabe is up to 44 pounds, and loves to play with tennis balls. 

The goal is to continue to nurture Gabriel until he is ready to leave for a forever home, probably some time in January. A number of people have already inquired about adopting him. Donors have also stepped up to provide thousands of dollars to pay for his extensive recovery needs. 

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