Dog found in trash with electrical cord embedded in its neck; former owner charged
A trash collector in Cahokia made quite a discovery when he found an emaciated, injured dog put out with the trash Thursday.
The dog, a 1-year-old black pit bull mix, had an electrical cord embedded in his neck. His body was covered with bruises and burns. And he weighed just 30 pounds, 15 to 20 less than a healthy dog of his size.
"I'm a past canine guy, so it hit me pretty hard," said Cahokia Police Lt. James Jones. "I've never seen an animal in such horrible condition."
Former owner Tracia Johnson
, 34, of 503 Mildred Ave., was charged Tuesday with cruel treatment of animals and two violations of animals owner's duties -- all misdemeanors.
A trash company employee discovered the dog in a large trash can about 10 a.m. Thursday.
"When he emptied the can, he observed something coming out of it," Jones said. "It was a little dog looking at him."
The dog, who rescuers named Tommy, had an electrical cord -- an apparent makeshift collar -- embedded in his neck. Tommy had been beaten, burned and was nearly starving.
"It appeared the dog kept getting loose, so they put an electric cord as a collar instead of a chain," Jones explained. The cord kept getting tighter on the dog, making it nearly impossible for the animal to eat, he said.
Jones said police think the owner may have put the dog in the trash because she thought it was dead.
"I couldn't believe he was alive," said Jackie Spiker, of Hope Animal Rescues Inc., a no-kill shelter in Madison County.
"He smelled like death," Spiker continued. "I've never smelt anything like that. The vet said it was his rotting flesh ... What was embedded in him was wiring and plastic, all of that stuff is going to cause a serious infection."
Spiker took the injured dog to the Horseshoe Lake Animal Hospital for treatment. On Friday, he had surgery to remove the electrical cord and treat the infection around his neck. Both his legs were shaved to treat his various wounds and he was put on an IV.
He was released from the hospital Saturday and has gained six pounds.
Spiker said several people have already expressed interest in adopting Tommy, but that he has a long road to recovery.
Tommy's most serious injury, the wound around his neck, will take at least a month to heal, Spiker said.
"He's got several follow ups and possibly one more surgery," Spiker said. "He's got a way to go. We have to see how he heals."
Tommy is spending his days recovering at Club Paws, Spiker's doggy daycare in Alton.
The dog, who affectionately gives kisses and wags his tail, gets along well with other dogs, cats and -- despite the abuse he suffered -- even people, Spiker said.
For more information about Tommy or to donate to help pay veterinarian bills, visit www.hoperescues.com