It's one of the worst neck wounds a Southern California animal shelter has ever seen: a shoelace tied around a stray dog's neck cleaved its way under the skin, possibly over the course of a year or more.
The German shepherd mix was spotted by a good Samaritan in Riverside County, who coaxed it out of its hiding place when he noticed the animal's deplorable condition, including rotting skin, the county said. A $1,000 reward has been offered for the prosecution of whoever neglected the dog.
The roughly inch-deep wound was bad enough that "you would think her head was about to fall off," Riverside County Animal Services worker Itzel Vizcarra said.
The dog is about a year-and-a-half old, and Animal Services staff theorize the dog's first owner put a shoelace on her as a puppy, then lost track of her. As she got older, her neck grew too large for the shoelace, but it was never taken off.
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"We've seen a lot of embedded collars, unfortunately, but this one was the worst any of us had ever seen, for sure," Vizcarra said.
The shoelace-collar cut into muscle and affected her blood flow, according to Vizcarra. The fur around her had disappeared, revealing exposed, infected and dying tissue underneath the skin, according to a statement from Riverside County Animal Services.
An officer retrieved the dog from Perris Thursday afternoon where the dog was being fed by Ernesto Perez, according to the statement. Perez first spotted the dog when she followed him home after his graveyard shift.
Perez noticed the deep gash the next day, when he coaxed her out from under a trailer with slices of ham along with the help of his girlfriend, Miriam Rodriguez, the statement said. Animal care workers lauded them for their involvement in helping a stray animal.
Riverside County veterinarians are hopeful that the dog will survive, said Robert Miller, director of Animal Services, who secured the $1,000 reward for information leading to the successful conviction of the dog's neglecter.
"This is clearly a major neglect cruelty case," Miller said in the statement. "We are stunned, like so many others will be, when they see how this dog was left to suffer as such. We can only hope that this case will also remind pet owners to never tie cords or twines around a dog’s neck."
Riverside County Animal Services officials ask anyone with information about the dog's owner or former owner to contact the shelter at 951-358-7387 or email@example.com.