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Emaciated dog recovers after being left in New Stanton garbage can | TribLIVE.com
Westmoreland

Emaciated dog recovers after being left in New Stanton garbage can

Tribune-Review
| Thursday, November 6, 2014 12:50 a.m.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
State Trooper Steve Limani comforts Fawna, a 9-month-old female collie mix, at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County in Greensburg on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Fawna was found in a garbage bag in a garbage can in New Stanton last Thursday, and charges have been filed.
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Steph Chambers | Trib Total Media
The rib bones of Fawna, a 9-month-old female collie mix, show from her torso at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County in Greensburg on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Fawna was found in a garbage bag in a garbage can in New Stanton last Thursday, and charges have been filed.

Every few hours, veterinarian technician Megan Fritz fed a fragile, emaciated dog a handful of boiled ground beef and rice.

Though bland, the concoction may have saved the life of the 9-month-old dog found last week in a garbage can in New Stanton.

“She’s gotten a lot spunkier,” said Fritz of New Alexandria, who is providing a foster home. “She’s a really friendly dog; she’ll pretty much just walk up to anyone and love them.”

The collie mix, named Fawna for her light tan coat, has gained 8 pounds since she was discovered by a garbage truck driver on his route on Oct. 30. The puppy’s head was sticking out of a trash bag at a Yellow Pine Lane residence.

State police accuse the dog’s former owner, Nicole L. Baker, 50, of Hempfield, of torturing the dog by withholding food for about six weeks before leaving her in the trash can on Oct. 27. Baker is charged with a misdemeanor count of animal cruelty and a summary count of disorderly conduct.

She could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

“We do have evidence of messaging back and forth that would indicate intent,” said Trooper Stephen Limani.

Though Fawna’s ribs, spine and hip bones are still visible, she appears much healthier and got lots of attention from visitors at the Humane Society of Westmoreland County Wednesday afternoon.

A cut on her hip became infected, resulting in an abscess that had to be removed after she was brought to the shelter, said animal control officer Jan Dillon.

Dillon said it is one of the worst cases of abuse she has seen.

The dog was found by garbage truck driver Nathan Binnie, 31, of Johnstown just before noon on Oct. 30. She weighed just 17 pounds, instead of a normal weight of about 50.

A criminal complaint indicates that Baker acknowledged her alleged actions to a relative.

“Yeah, I am a bad person,” Baker said in a text-message response to a relative’s inquiry about the dog, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Baker told police during an interview on Tuesday that she starved the dog for about six weeks before leaving her in the trash can.

Fawna was taken to the shelter, given a new name and went home with Fritz.

“When any living creature goes through that it’s not only physical trauma, it’s mental trauma,” Fritz said. “She’s definitely getting stronger day by day.”

At first, Fawna was fed beef and rice every three to four hours to prevent her body from being overwhelmed, Fritz said. Her body temperature was low, so Fritz set up a space heater.

Fawna has since graduated to lamb and rice dog food and has started to “perk up” in the last few days, Fritz said.

“She’ll grab my hand with her mouth and play,” Fritz said as she ran her hands over the dog’s soft coat. “She’s finally starting to act like a dog.”

Calls have poured into the shelter from people wanting to donate for the dog’s care and others hoping to adopt her, Dillon said.

Fawna may be available for adoption in the next couple months.

“She’s such a great dog that I want her to be able to go into someone’s home and fit right in,” Fritz said.

Until then, she’ll make her home with a 5-year-old Great Dane and three cats.

“She needs to feel safe and secure for a little while,” Fritz said. “I’m blown away by the amount of support and love that people are sending her way.”

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com.

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