Syracuse resident charged with mistreating pit bull

Pit bull mistreated in Syracuse

Pit bull mistreated in Syracuse
Stefanie Higgins, one of the founders of the Cuse Pit Crew, talks about her organization and the plight of an abuse pit bull who has been named “Grace.”
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Syracuse, N.Y. — The owner of a severely mistreated pit bull was arrested Wednesday and charged with animal cruelty. It was the first such arrest since the Syracuse Police Department began dedicating a specific officer to investigate animal abuse cases.

The dog, named Grace by workers at the DeWitt Animal Hospital and an advocate for abused pit bulls, was picked up as a stray Monday morning on West Onondaga Street, and the police officer — Rebecca Thompson — tracked down the owner on Wednesday with the help of an anonymous tip, said Stefanie Higgins, one of the founders of Cuse Pit Crew. Her all-volunteer organization, a member of the Animal Alliance of Greater Syracuse, works to protect pit bulls, she said.

“She was the most emaciated dog I’ve ever seen,” Higgins said.

DSC_0007.JPGAbused pit bull

The dog was extremely emaciated, dehydrated, had an eye infection and generalized debility, according to a doctor at the Dewitt Animal Hospital, said Syracuse Police Sgt. Tom Connellan. The dog was taken to the animal hospital, where it has been receiving treatment.

“I think she looks better, but she’s still extremely ill, extremely underweight,” Higgins said.

The dog is 7-8 years old and should weigh about 60 pounds. Instead, it weighs 30-35 pounds, said Gerry Glasso, a veterinary assistant at the hospital. The dog is too weak to stand for extended periods or bark.

The dog’s owner, Marquette Jamison, 35, of 1511 W. Onondaga St., was charged Wednesday under the New York state agriculture and markets law with failure to provide medical care to an animal that needs it and failure to provide proper sustenance, Connellan said. Both charges are misdemeanors.

Jamison admitted she was the dog’s owner, Connellan said. She said she knew the dog was in bad shape but did not have the money to care for the dog.

Jamison was released on an appearance ticket to appear in Syracuse City Court.

Higgins, 31, of North Syracuse, said she became interested in protecting pit bulls when she was working part time in an animal shelter and saw pit bulls being put down daily and passed over for adoption. Her organization has about 20 volunteer members, she said. The group, which was formed in 2011, works to raise awareness about pit bulls and protect them from abuse through training programs.

pitbull.JPGView full sizeGerry Grasso and Stefanie Higgins pose at the DeWitt Animal Hospital with Grace, an abused and emaciated pit bull.

Pit bulls are very happy, loyal, strong and smart dogs — and many owners take advantage of these traits to train them to fight, she said.

“They will do whatever you ask them to do,” Higgins said. “If the owner asks them to fight, that’s what they’re going to do.”

Higgins said she doesn’t believe Grace was taught to fight. It’s more likely, she said, that the dog was bred many times and its puppies were sold.

“They’re meant to be companions,” Higgins said. “They’re going to give their love back to you just as you give them love.”

People can call Dewitt Animal Hospital directly at 446-1200 to donate for Grace’s care.

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