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September 26, 2011

Emaciated dog rescued just in time

Scrawny and tired, the dog wandered up to animal control officer Bob McMillan and collapsed. It was clear the dog, a 4-to-6-year-old Catahoula mix, hadn't eaten in days. His fur was ragged and falling out, his head drooped and his ribs looked like corrugated steel. Any longer, and his organs would have started shutting down.

Scrawny and tired, the dog wandered up to animal control officer Bob McMillan and collapsed. It was clear the dog, a 4-to-6-year-old Catahoula mix, hadn't eaten in days. His fur was ragged and falling out, his head drooped and his ribs looked like corrugated steel. Any longer, and his organs would have started shutting down. "He couldn't walk anymore, but after some assessment we determined that he was malnourished, period," said Rick Blackwell, animal services manager for Merced County Animal Control. "Medical tests showed he was normal."

So after a few days of intense attention from animal control workers, the dog -- later nicknamed "Bones" for his skeletal appearance -- started to improve. Bones was hooked up to an intravenous feeding tube, and by Sunday afternoon he was starting to eat on his own again. He was taken to Taylor Veterinary Clinic in Turlock for follow-up treatment.

"He's fortunate that we found him in time. There was no organ failure," Blackwell said.

Nobody's come forward to claim Bones. That might not be surprising -- Merced County animal control officers pick up thousands of strays and unwanted pets each year -- but because of the dog's emaciated condition, officers want to find out what happened to him. Merced County's animal control codes state that owners who neglect their pets can face misdemeanor charges.

Anyone with information may call McMillan at (209) 385-7436. The identity of callers can be kept confidential, Blackwell said. The dog was found last week in a rural area south of Livingston on Robin Avenue between Bell Drive and Longview Avenue.

For now, Bones has found a temporary home with a rescue organization that will help the dog find a new leash on life.

Online editor Brandon Bowers can be reached at (209) 385-2464 or bbowers@mercedsunstar.com.

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