LAURENS COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A dog found severely emaciated and starving in the Upstate earlier this month is on the road to recovery in Columbia.
Elizabeth James, 30, is charged in Laurens County, SC with ill-treatment of an animal after investigators said she intentionally starved the dog and deprived it of water because it formally belonged to an ex-boyfriend. Investigators claim during this same time period, James continued to feed and care for her own dogs.
The dog, later named Champ, was brought to CVETS in Columbia in critical condition a week and a half ago.
"He needed a blood transfusion, he needed some intensive IV fluids and electrolyte management, calories and the natural proteins you need to survive," Dr. Tracy Schlicksup, a veterinarian at the hospital, said.
Doctors have slowly been introducing meals to Champ, as his body gets used to reintroducing food to his system. Dr. Schlickup said Champ came to the hospital weighing just 50 pounds, which is half of what a dog his age and size should weigh.
"When he first came in he couldn't lift his head and now he's gained enough strength to walk on his own," she said. "We can reverse what happened here luckily because someone intervened and we can reverse it and he can be a normal dog and live a normal life."
On Tuesday, Champ received a special visit from the Richland County Sheriff's Department K-9 Unit.
"We reached out to some of the vendors we use for our department and our K-9s and they jumped on board when they saw what was going on with Champ," Lt. Kevin Hoover said.
Lt. Hoover brought Champ toys, treats, and an orthopedic bed and blankets.
"I don't know how someone could actually do that and you know I strongly feel some people just don't deserve animals."
Champ will continue recovering at CVETS before being placed in a foster home to continue his recovery. Then, the rescue group that first helped him, Rescue Dogs Rock NYC, will help find him a forever home.
The rescue group has started an online fundraiser to help pay for Champ's medical bills. He is expected to make a full recovery.
James' case will likely be heard by the Laurens County grand jury in November as the solicitor's office said it aims to charge her with the highest degree of ill-treatment of animals.
If she is indicted, she could face anywhere from six months to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.