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Rescued pup in Pittsburgh taught how to be a dog

| Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 9:14 p.m.
Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review
El-ray, a 16 month old Pittbull mix puppy, at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society on the North Side, was taken from a North Braddock home in May and is now available for adoption. Justin Merriman | Tribune-Review

Elray, a pit bull terrier, spent most of his time in a cage before he was rescued from a North Braddock home in May and had no idea how to be a dog, an official with the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society said.

“He didn't know how to walk on a leash or play with a toy,” spokeswoman Gretchen Fieser said.

On Tuesday, Elray grunted and growled while he chomped on a stuffed animal and bounded around an office at the humane society's North Side headquarters.

Nine dogs taken from the home on May 19, including Elray, and several cats will be available for adoption within the next few weeks, Fieser said Tuesday — the same day the agency learned that owner Priscilla McKenzie, 45, agreed to relinquish the animals.

On May 19, Allegheny County Children, Youth and Family workers went to the home to check on the welfare of a 10-year-old girl who they learned wasn't home. Animal control agents later found the animals living in filth, many covered in feces and urine and flea-infested. The animals were taken to the Humane Society for treatment. Several were euthanized.

The Humane Society and county animal control filed more than 40 citations against McKenzie, charging her with animal cruelty, failing to have the animals vaccinated and related offenses.

In August, McKenzie pleaded guilty to the summary offenses. District Judge Scott H. Schricker levied more than $25,000 in fines, which McKenzie is appealing, according to court records.

In court documents, McKenzie listed a Virginia address. She could not be reached Tuesday.

Housing the animals cost the humane society thousands of dollars, at $10 a day per animal. Humane officer Brian Bucek Jr. said the agency agreed not to seek restitution from McKenzie if she relinquished ownership of the animals.

Staff members said they'll be sorry to see Elray, 16 months old, go, but said he'll fit in well in a home with another energetic dog.

“He's like Forrest Gump,” said Shelley Rosenberg, a humane investigations department coordinator. “Everything to him is new, everything's an adventure. And you never know what you're going to get.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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