A Tennessee man has been arrested and charged with felony animal cruelty after abandoning his dog in a backyard without food for three months (warning: the photos below are graphic).
Officials were called to the Memphis home in July and found the dog, Nino, on the verge of death from starvation.
"Nino has zero evidence of fat or muscle on his body," Alexis Pugh, director of Memphis Animal Services, told WREG. "Nino is a skeleton with skin on him. Nino is lucky to be alive today."
"When you talk about the worst level of starvation, that’s what were talking about with Nino," she added.
It is believed that Nino stayed alive by eating his own feces as well as dead animals he found in the yard.
His owner, 27-year-old Kellen Jones, reportedly told police that he didn’t have a job and couldn't afford to care for the dog.
"The owner told [police] he’d been away for three months," Pugh explained. "He’d made no arrangements to have the dog cared for. The owner of Nino was very forthcoming with these details so perhaps he was unaware of his legal obligations."
WREG was unable reach Jones for comment, but his neighbors told the news station that they were surprised to hear that he had done something like this.
Nino is now being closely monitored by Memphis Animal Services staff, who say he is eating every two hours and making progress. Once he has his strength back, officials hope they can find him a foster home.
Pugh said she hopes Nino's case will remind the community to take action when they witness animal abuse.
"If you see something, say something. Don’t assume someone has already called us. Don’t assume we've already been there," she said.
In late July, a New York woman was sentenced to six months in jail for leaving an injured dog, also named Nino, outside a veterinarian clinic in 2015.
Tamara Copeland, 58, had pleaded guilty in May to a misdemeanor charge of abandonment of animals, according to Patch.
"This defendant abandoned a helpless dog suffering from horrible injuries that appeared to be the result of long-term abuse and neglect," District Attorney Madeline Singas said. "The people of Nassau County have big hearts and tips from the public helped us solve this tragic case. Thanks to skilled veterinarians and our Animal Crimes investigators and prosecutors, Nino recovered from his injuries to live out his final days in a loving home."
In addition to her jail sentence, Copeland is prohibited from owning any animals for a period of 10 years.