A small dog is getting a new lease on life after being so neglected that her owner thought she was dead.
The 8-year-old Lhasa Apso was rescued from a Riverside home after her owner called Riverside County Animal Services himself because he wanted her picked up, thinking she had died, the shelter said in a news release.
When animal control services officer John Hergenreder arrived, he discovered that the dog was alive but in bad shape, hiding under a bush against the house. The owner later told Hergenreder that the dog was "acting funny" and refused to eat and revealed that the last time she was properly groomed had been about a year ago.
Hergenreder took the pooch to the Western Riverside County/City Animal Shelter, where veterinarians discovered maggots in the "animal's rear area" as they worked to cut away at her severely matted fur.
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"This is where the dog's skin was moist and enflamed - and the infection of her skin provided an environment in which maggots thrive," said veterinary Dr. Sara Strongin.
After treating the pup for her infection and giving her an injection to ease her pain, veterinarians fully shaved her. "This dog suffered in this condition and it's just terrible to allow a breed of this type to go this long without properly grooming," Sgt. Dylan Gates said.
The case is now being investigated as animal cruelty, with charges likely to be forwarded to the Riverside County District Attorney's Office.
Once the dog heals, she will be put up for adoption or transferred to one of the Riverside County Animal Services' rescue partners, said animal services spokesman John Welsh.