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He came to us emaciated and hungry

posted on Tuesday, March 2, 2021 in News

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UPDATE (4/16/2021 at 9:38 a.m.)

Dwight McNeal of Saylor Township pleaded guilty this week to 1 count of Animal Neglect (a simple misdemeanor) for his involvement in the starvation case of Jax, a large breed dog who weighed just 27.5 pounds when he arrived in the care of the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) in early March. McNeal was sentenced to 4 days in jail with a credit for 1 day served with his initial arrest.

Under the new state law that went into effect in July 2020, charges of animal neglect now allow for increased penalties and mental health evaluations if found guilty.

Penalties now range from up to 1-2 years in jail and fines between $315 to $6,250 if found guilty. “Before the new law went into effect, we would rarely see jail time for these types of offenses, so while this is a step in the right direction, it is also incredibly important to also include mental evaluations in these types of sentencings to prevent future animal suffering,” said Colin Grace, Attorney & ARL Director of Legal & Legislative Initiatives. “Anyone who can maintain indifference to this degree of suffering needs mental health intervention to protect both animals and people alike.”

Thanks to donations to our Full Bellies Food Fund, Jax gained significant weight under the care of the ARL teams and has been adopted to a loving family where he is enjoying his new life – the life he always deserved.


UPDATE (3/4/2021 at 1:00 p.m.)

Dwight McNeal of Saylor Township was arrested today and charged with 1 count of animal neglect, in relation to an extremely emaciated dog the Animal Rescue League of Iowa (ARL) has named Jax. Under the new state law that went into effect in July 2020, charges of animal neglect now allow for increased penalties and mental health evaluations if found guilty. Penalties now range from 1-2 years in jail and fines between $315 to $6,250.

In his first 3 days in the ARL’s care, Jax has already gained 4 pounds.

ARL Animal Services Officers conducted a full investigation that successfully led to both securing custody of Jax for future adoption and state charges being filed under the Des Moines Police Department’s authority.

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ORIGINAL POST (3/2/2021 at 1:10 p.m.)

When Jax arrived, the sight of him took our breath away.

He was literally skin and bones. No fat. No muscle mass. We weren’t sure how he was even standing.

He weighed just 27.5 pounds — about half of what his normal body weight should be.

For a roughly 10-month-old large-breed dog, it was heartbreaking.

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On top of that the odor coming from him was awful. He smelled like a pig sty. Feces were caked on his stomach. His teeth were horrible, which is highly unusual for such a young dog indicating that he had been so desperate with hunger that he had been eating anything he could find, likely including his own feces. He was also suffering from worms and fleas.

This poor pup didn’t get this way overnight. He had been suffering for weeks, if not months.

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We immediately offered him food and water and he ate and drank ravenously, scarfing down the first food he’d had in who knows how long. He’s now on a careful refeeding program to help him safely regain weight and is being closely watched by our medical team. His condition is fragile, and we're taking things day by day.

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Thankfully he is now safe and in a place where he can finally get the care he needs. He was very shy and apprehensive of people when he arrived, and after all he’s been through we can’t blame him. Now that he is more comfortable with us, we’ve found he just wants to be cuddled and loved.

The investigation in Jax's case is ongoing, but he needs your help now.

Your support today to our Miracle Medical Fund today will help Jax and others in need of lifesaving care right now, and your monthly donation will help Jax and countless others who arrive at our doors in need of a miracle.