Authorities are seeking the public’s help finding Freddie Lee Gray Jr., who has been charged with animal cruelty in a nine-count arrest warrant in connection with a puppy found caged and starving in the suspect’s former
The 6-month-old brindle pit bull -- little more than mangy skin and bones -- was euthanized late Friday due to the severity of its medical problems and his pain and suffering, said Delaware SPCA Executive Director John E. Caldwell.
Gray apparently vacated his Wedgefield Court home near the U.S. 13-40 split and moved out everything but the dog, he said.
He may have been left for weeks, and had months-old medical problems, said veterinary technician Sarah Van Aken.
A worker changing locks Tuesday night in the otherwise empty house found the puppy in a cage in a second-floor bedroom, Caldwell said.
The worker called the Delaware SPCA, he said. The nonprofit pet adoption agency also investigates cruelty cases statewide.
The arrest warrant obtained by Delaware SPCA Cruelty Investigator John Saville charges 42-year-old Gray with three counts of cruel neglect for dog abandonment, failure to provide sanitary conditions and failure to provide proper care to prevent the dog’s poor condition and to provide veterinary care for treatment of that condition.
Under state law, animal cruelty is punishable by fines up to $5,000 and five years in prison.
“This is one of the worst cases of cruelty I’ve ever seen,” said Caldwell, who has been the Delaware SPCA’s director for more than 25 years. “He was in extremely critical condition.”
“His gums were pale and he wasn’t moving,” Van Aken said.
He appeared to have survived by eating feces and licking his decaying flesh and scabs, she said.
His initial crisis care topped $1,000 for antibiotics, fluids, liquid nutrition, mite treatment, necrotic flesh removal and pain medication, Caldwell said.
By Thursday, he could walk a little. Van Aken said he drank a little water, but still couldn’t eat.
His joints were swollen, inflamed and misshapen, a condition attributed to calcium deficiency from too little food or poor diet.
He suffered severe malnourishment, dehydration, anemia and mange from a mite infestation, Caldwell said. He weight 22 pounds “when ideal weight would be about 40,” he said.
At that point, the puppy was expected to survive with months of treatment and recovery.
“He’s a sweetheart,” Van Aken said, holding him Thursday. He welcomed petting and during one treatment, she said, “He just curled up in my lap.”
But Friday, “he just went downhill fast,” Caldwell said; his temperature spiked, he grew lethargic and was rushed for emergency veterinary care.
His condition was so poor, the wounds so deep, his pain and suffering so severe, the veterinarian recommended euthanasia for humane reasons, Caldwell said, and by SPCA policy, they were obligated to comply.
“It’s a shame,” he said. “Poor little guy.”