N4T Investigators: Dog dumping - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Dog dumping

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This puppy's front left leg had to be amputated. This puppy's front left leg had to be amputated.

(Warning: You may find some of this video disturbing)

Tucson - It's 7 a.m. and Pima Animal Care Center's Adam Ricci, a former cop, is now trying to save abandoned and stray dogs. 

"It a rescue mission," Ricci tells the News 4 Tucson Investigators, who are riding with him. "Because when we go out to this call, we don't know exactly what we're going to find." 

Ricci is PACC's Chief Animal Protection Officer. His first call is about a reported stray on the west side. 

A black and brown terrier fits the description of the dog residents saw roaming the neighborhood. They took him in until PACC could arrive. Like so many abandoned and stray dogs, the terrier has no license tag, as required by law, and no collar or microchip. 

Ricci befriends the terrier, puts him on a leash, and walks him to the PACC truck. If the dog's owner doesn't come forward, he'll be put up for adoption.

Ricci then receives a call he dreads. It's about a dog just hit by a car on I-10 near Nogales Highway. It's the worst case scenario: the dog has died. Not surprisingly, he also has no tag, collar or microchip. Ricci says, "It's incredibly unfortunate, but it's a reality of what happens when animals are allowed to run freely." Ricci says it happens often. "Just yesterday, I was out with an officer, we had a hit-by-car that unfortunately had hip fractures, pelvic fractures, a lot of injuries." 

The News 4 Tucson Investigators have seen countless dogs running around Tucson over the years and over the past few days. It is hard to tell which have been abandoned and which have owners who violate the leash law. Some owners think it's alright to let their dogs walk in their unenclosed front yard without a leash, apparently believing the dog won't run in the street. That's not only illegal, it's dangerous. 

Of the 326 dogs now at PACC, more than half,167, were brought in by good Samaritans, as strays or abandoned.

It costs nothing to surrender your dog or cat to PACC. But many owners don't bother to bring their pets here. Ricci says the busiest areas for stray and abandoned dogs are on the city's south and west side. "We;re still going into the same neighborhoods, every single week, every single month, dealing with the same problems. 

For years, dogs have been dumped at the so-called "dog patch"  south of the Tucson airport, where many are rescued by the group "Angels for Animals." Some owners leave their dogs in more dangerous places.

A  four-month old Mini-Pin/Chihuahua mix was found near the busy intersection of I-10 and Congress St. a couple of months ago. Maybe he had been hit by a car, or thrown from one. His front left leg was so badly damaged, it had to be amputated. 

Michelle Troupe adopted the puppy and named him "Chopper." I just can't imagine what kind of person has got the cruelty to abandon or treat dogs badly," Troupe says. "I get really emotional whenever I think about it. He's such a sweet puppy and he's not the first foster I've had that has had a really tragic life, and they are such blessings and they have so much joy and thankfulness to be with you."

Ricci says when dogs and cats come to PACC, "We put them through various evaluations, we provide them with all the medical attention that they're going to need because we want to get these pets into families, happily and safely."

Adds Michele Troupe, "There's no reason besides just cruelty and selfishness that anybody wouldn't find a humane alternative for a dog they couldn't take care of."  If you would like to follow the progress of Michele's new three-legged puppy on Instagram, she's started an account called "chopperthehopper."

Dog owners who are worried about being able to keep them or provide proper care can call PACC's Pet Support Center. The center provides all kinds of advice, low-cost medical care and can help arrange a surrender. To contact the support center call 724-PACC (7222.)  Remember, there are many options for providing responsible pet care. Dumping them on the street is not one of them.

Also, PACC and the Humane Society of Southern Arizona always need fosters for dogs and dog walkers. Contact either agency if you are interested.

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.

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