Oscar, Thrown in a Dumpster and Left for Dead

posted on Friday, November 9, 2018 in News

OscarUPDATE (2/6/19): Derrick Peterson has pleaded guilty to 1 count of animal Abandonment and 1 count of Animal Neglect for his role in the horrific case of Oscar, the severely emaciated dog who was found in a Des Moines dumpster in mid-November. As part of the plea, Peterson was ordered to serve 60 days in jail with 55 days suspended and 2 days credit for previous time-served after his arrest, leaving a remainder of 3 days left to serve. He was also ordered to pay $130 in fines plus additional restitution. Peterson has been placed on a 12 month probation and as a condition of this probation, he cannot own any animals during that time and he must complete an animal welfare class during this time, or he will face additional jail time.

While the penalty for animal abusers in horrific cases like Oscar’s still need to be strengthened, the ARL applauds the Polk County attorney’s office and Judge Dickinson for their creativity in this sentencing, using every resource available to them to ensure Peterson not only receives some punishment for his crimes, but also putting in place measures to ensure that future animals are protected from him, while also making efforts to provide additional education in the hopes of rehabilitation. Thanks to donations to the ARL’s Miracle Medical Fund, Oscar is now thriving in his adoptive home and is finally safe and loved.

Iowa ranks 47th in the country for animal welfare laws. Anyone interested in helping change Iowa’s laws should join the ARL’s Humane Action Network at www.arl-iowa.org/han.

UPDATE (11/28/18): Great news! Oscar is being adopted by Tina Updegrove, the ARL ACO responsible for the investigation that led to the arrest of Oscar’s abuser.

Read article (or watch video below):

Derrick Peterson, OscarUPDATE (11/24/18): Thanks to an outstanding investigation by the ARL Animal Control division and tips from the public, in cooperation with the Des Moines Police Department, we are pleased to announce that Derrick Dewayne Peterson has been arrested and charged with animal neglect and abandonment.

UPDATE (11/16/18): The Animal Rescue League’s Animal Control division has identified a person of interest in the case of Oscar, the emaciated dog who was found abandoned in a dumpster. The Animal Rescue League of Iowa is requesting the public’s assistance in locating Derrick Dewayne Peterson. Anyone who has any information on his whereabouts should contact Des Moines non-emergency police dispatch at (515) 283-4811.

UPDATE 11/12/18: News coverage to help find the person responsible:

We Are Iowa, ABC 5 (Click here for article)WHOTv 13 (Click here for article)

KCCI 8 (Click here for article)
Oscar Kcci


It’s unimaginable what happened to Oscar this week. This neglected, emaciated dog was trapped in a kennel and thrown in a dumpster – left for dead. Luckily, the kennel broke open upon impact and Oscar was able to climb to the top of the trash pile, but he was too weak to jump out of the dumpster. All he could do was wait. Eventually, a good Samaritan saw him and rushed him to the ARL for help.

What we saw when Oscar arrived would take your breath away. This dog was a walking skeleton, weighing only 4 lbs. Our veterinarians rushed to his aid.

Oscar Intake Photos

Oscar had zero body fat, loss of muscle mass, hair loss, and intestinal parasites. His fur was stained from being caged in his own filth for a long time.



This didn’t happen overnight. Oscar had been neglected for a while.

He arrived at the ARL just in time. Had it been much longer, he wouldn’t have survived. Over the past several days our medical team has been helping him safely regain weight and begin to return to health. This poor guy was so hungry that once he began having food again, his body immediately responded. In the first 48 hours he regained 25% of his body weight! He is so sweet. He wants to be near people at all times and especially loves being held.

It is unimaginable that anyone could look into Oscar’s eyes and just throw him away.


Your donation to our Miracle Medical Fund provides lifesaving care and rehabilitation for the most vulnerable animals. Oscar was treated like literal trash by his previous owner, but you can give the gift of hope today for Oscar and other pets who need immediate help.

Even better, when you donate during the month of November, your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar, thanks to a generous challenge from the estate of Daryl E. Behounek – that means when you donate to help Oscar, you’ll also help another animal at the ARL who needs you.

Donate now