Owner charged after emaciated dog found by hunter in Mt. Pleasant Twp. | TribLIVE.com
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Villa, a boxer mix, is handled by Jay Malnofsky, assistant manager of Action for Animals Humane Society near Latrobe on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014.

An emaciated dog discovered by a hunter in woods in Westmoreland County a month ago is recovering at the Action for Animals Humane Society while its former owner faces criminal charges, authorities said.

State police in Greensburg this week filed criminal charges of cruelty to animals and disorderly conduct against Robert F. Hauser, 41, of Armstrong County for allegedly starving and abandoning his 5-year-old dog, Villa, in woods off Sawmill Road in Mt. Pleasant Township.

Police said Hauser intended to shoot the dog in the head because he couldn’t afford to feed her.

“She’s in great shape now, considering where she was when she arrived almost one month ago,” said LuAnn Hutcheson, manager of the Action for Animals shelter along Route 217 in Derry Township, where the dog is being treated. “Villa’s really a very sweet dog, a forgiving dog.

“She was found in the vicinity of Stone Villa Winery, hence the name Villa,” Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson said Villa, a boxer mix, weighed just 28 pounds when she arrived. A dog her age should weigh 50 pounds, according to veterinarian Tricia Mucci, who has been treating Villa at the shelter.

“She now weighs just over 36 pounds. We’re really very fortunate there was no other major medical damage done to her system,” Hutcheson said.

Trooper Roy Mumau reported in the affidavit of probable cause that police were notified by a volunteer rescue group, One Dog at a Time, that a local hunter found the emaciated dog in the woods.

The organization then received an anonymous telephone tip that the dog had been owned by Hauser of Kiski Township.

Hauser told police he had given the dog to a friend about three weeks before it was found in the woods, about 35 miles away, and was unaware of its condition, according to police.

After Mumau contacted the friend, who denied any involvement, the trooper returned to question Hauser again.

“I interviewed Hauser, who related he initially lied to me because he was afraid of going to jail. Hauser also related that he never gave his dog away,” Mumau wrote.

“Hauser then related that he drove to Sawmill Road where he intended to shoot his dog … in the head to put her down due to him not having enough money to care for her,” the trooper wrote.

Mucci determined that Villa’s poor condition “was the result of severe starvation over a several-week period,” Mumau said.

Hauser could not be reached for comment. Online court documents did not indicate he has an attorney. He was released on signature bond, pending a preliminary hearing Dec. 4 before Mt. Pleasant Township District Judge Roger Eckels.

Hutcheson said Villa may be ready to adopt from the shelter “in a few weeks — as soon as she receives a formal medical release and is spayed.”

The shelter uses donations to assist in such animal cruelty cases, she said.

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