Emaciated dog rescued from McKeesport home

| Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, 10:21 a.m.

Fire damaged a two-story brick home in McKeesport on Thursday and an emaciated, injured dog found at the house has prompted an animal cruelty investigation.

No one was home or injured in the blaze at 2709 Palmgreen St., which was reported at about 8:54 a.m., but the fire did displace a mother and her three children. They are receiving food, shelter and clothing from the American Red Cross.

McKeesport fire Capt. James Shields said heavy smoke was coming from a second-floor bedroom in the rear of the brick structure when firefighters arrived.

The fire itself was contained to the second floor.

Shields said it took fire teams approximately 20 minutes to bring the blaze under control.

A cause for the fire was not immediately available. The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's office is conducting an investigation.

In addition to McKeesport, fire departments from Glassport and the Bettis plant in West Mifflin responded to the scene.

A Rottweiler puppy and a pit bull mix were outside the residence during the fire and rescued by first responders, but the pit bull mix ran away.

The Rottweiler was secured and subsequently turned over to McKeesport animal control officer Ken Ferree.

The Rottweiler had an injured neck from the way it was collared.

Western Pennsylvania Humane Society is investigating the condition of the Rottweiler and the possibility of animal cruelty charges against the owner. The pit bull mix hadn't been found as of presstime.

“The dog was unhooked from a long, rigid, frayed cable,” Ferree said. “The cable was imbedded into the dog's neck. As the dog pulled, the cable was made tighter like a noose around the dog's neck. We were able to get the cable out. This wasn't something that happened in a day or two. It happened over a couple weeks or more.”

He said the house fire may have been a blessing for the canine.

“The dog is emaciated and you can see all of its bones,” Ferree said. “The dog weighs just under 41 pounds. That's about 35 to 40 pounds underweight.”

The Rottweiler was taken to White Oak Animal Safe Haven and then for emergency surgery at White Oak Veterinary Clinic.

White Oak Animal Safe Haven president Ina Jean Marton said the shelter will take in the dog and provide care.

“It's going to cost us a lot for the vet,” she said. “It's a nice dog. It's just very scared now. We take dogs that have been in a disaster and do whatever we can to help.”

Ferree said he understands that the family suffered a major loss with the fire, but there's another issue that needs to be addressed of why the dog was emaciated and injured.

Donations to go toward the Rottweiler's surgery and care can be mailed to White Oak Animal Safe Haven, 2295 Lincoln Way, White Oak, 15131.

Stacy Lee and Eric Slagle are staff writers for Trib Total Media. They can be reached at 412-664-9161, Lee at ext. 1970, or slee@tribweb.com, Slagle at ext. 1966 or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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