COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Abandoned animals are a big problem across the area. Now, the story of one starved dog, found along a rural highway, is highlighting the issue and the consequences that too many pets suffer. That dog, called ‘Charlie’ by his rescuers, passed away Tuesday night.
Charlie was found by a motorist last week near a wooded area off Highway 53 in Lafayette County, near Lake Erling. Jamie Baker, who works with the Columbia County Animal Protection Society (CCAPS) came to Charlie’s aid after she got a frantic phone call from the woman who found him.
“He was standing, but he was real wobbly and he’d take a couple of steps and fall down. It’d take him a few minutes to get back up,” she said.
It’s unclear how long it had been since Charlie had eaten.
“He was just digesting his own muscle basically to live off of, to provide enough energy to function,” veterinarian Mark Bryan said.
Charlie weighed 34 pounds, but Bryan said he should’ve weighed about twice that.
“He ate for us right out of our hands, as gentle as ever,” said Baker.
Charlie’s age and breed were unclear because of his condition. Baker suspects he was dumped at a nearby state park, near where he was found.
“I think he was loved at one point at least to a certain measure, for someone to house train him.”
Sadly, Charlie’s story is not uncommon. Bryan said all too often, animals are abandoned, left with no way to survive on their own. “We make dogs dependent on us through breeding, and they’re not like a fox or a coyote, get out there and fend for themselves. These guys are dependent on us and we drop the ball.”
Baker sees a lot of homeless pets come through the CCAPS shelter. She said the majority of abandoned pets do not survive.
“This is what’s gonna happen to them. A majority of them aren’t found, they’re not saved, they’re not finding loving homes. They’re starving to death and dying. I just don’t understand how people do it.”
Over the past few days, CCAPS has already taken in another emaciated dog, known as Junior. Donations from the public, once meant for Charlie’s recovery, will now go to help Junior and others like him.
Though Charlie did not survive, his rescuers hope his story will send a strong message to those thinking of dumping their pets. “Find somebody to take ’em. Do something, don’t throw them away … they don’t understand, they won’t make it.”
If you are caught dumping an animal, you face criminal charges, fines and jail time. If you see someone dumping an animal, officials urge you to get their license plate information and call your local law enforcement agency or animal control agency.