Kristin Lucas is used to finding animals in dire situations.
Lucas is the animal control officer in Livingston, and she often finds strays or hurt dogs and cats during her daily duties.
But on Wednesday, she saw something she had never seen before.
Someone had put an elderly Chihuahua dog in a garbage bag, tied the bag securely shut, and thrown it into the dumpster behind Sam's Food City in Livingston.
An employee of the grocery store saw the dog, and thinking it was either dead or injured, called Lucas.
"I looked in the dumpster, and all I saw was a head sticking out of a tiny hole," Lucas said. "The hole was just big enough for his head. He had obviously worked to get his head out so he could breathe."
The dog was covered in urine, and had some puncture wounds on his body, as if he had been in a fight with another dog, Lucas said. But other than that, and the fact that he was obviously an older dog, there wasn't much wrong with the dog.
"His toenails were a mess, curling into themselves," she said.
Lucas took the dog to Valley Animal Hospital, where Dr. Christine McFadden is taking care of him.
"He's an older dog, has some teeth issues, but not too bad," McFadden said. "He also has some puncture wounds where it looks like an animal attacked him."
Despite his wounds, McFadden said that the dog won’t need surgery and is doing well. He is basically healthy, she added.
Lucas said that throwing an unwanted pet into a dumpster is not the way to deal with pets.
"If someone doesn't want their dog, that's what the shelter is there for," Lucas said. "Most people don't make a snap decision to get rid of their dog, they think about it for a while."
She said that if a dog is old or sick, having it put to sleep at a veterinarian’s office or at the animal shelter is the kindest way to deal with the pet.
"This little dog could have went directly to a rescue group, not to the shelter, if we had had the option," Lucas said.
The little male dog is already neutered, according to McFadden, and should make someone who likes older dogs a good pet.
"This dog could have suffered a horrible, horrible death," Lucas said. “Thank goodness someone found him before that happened."
Reporter Carol Reiter can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or firstname.lastname@example.org