KINGSPORT — Police have charged a Kingsport woman with aggravated animal cruelty due to the condition of her two pit bull terriers.
On Feb. 5, a Kingsport Animal Control officer went to 615 Gillespie Ave. to check out a complaint of animal neglect.
The officer found one dog chained to a doghouse with no food or water in sight, and another chained to a pickup truck it was lying beneath — with no sign of food or water there either, according to Kingsport Police Department Detective Melanie Adkins.
The dog chained to the doghouse looked like it was starving, so the officer spoke with the owner, Cindy Nelson, 29, and told her he’d be back the next day to see if anything changed, Adkins said.
On Feb. 6, the officer found the dogs still chained and without access to food and water.
“Nothing had changed,” said Adkins.
The officer described the woman’s attitude toward the dogs’ plight as one of “total indifference,” Adkins said.
When Adkins contacted her Monday evening to let her know they’d taken out a warrant for her arrest, Nelson said she would turn herself in. Late Monday night, she still had not done so.
Adkins said when Nelson is arrested she would be held in lieu of $2,000 bond.
When someone from the animal shelter came out to rescue the dogs, the officer got the one dog out from under the truck where it was chained. It was a black male pit bull, and it couldn’t even walk, Adkins said.
“He had to carry the dog to the truck. He was so emaciated that his shoulders, ribs, backbone, pelvis were all protruding. You could see all of his bones. His abdomen was kind of tucked under, and he’s kind of bowed over. They bow over when they’re starved. His eyes are kind of sunken. He had severe frostbite. He had ulcerations to his ears, his feet and his rump area.”
“The ulcerations were infected. There was several inches of the tail that was completely eradicated, just completely gone from the frostbite. Now the veterinarian has said that somewhere down the road, they’re going to have to amputate. He also had swollen lymph nodes, which indicates a systematic infection,” she added.
The charge Nelson faces is due to the condition of that dog. Although both dogs were emaciated, Adkins said, no charges have yet been filed in connection with the other dog, a brown female.
The vet believes the dogs must have been suffering for at least several weeks, if not months, said Adkins. The woman’s neighbors have also said they’d seen the dogs in the same condition for quite some time.
Kingsport Animal Shelter Director Tracy Couch said that over the past 10 days, the dogs — which they’ve named Peaches and Bravo — have improved considerably. Because the dogs have shown no signs of aggression and seem to have a playful temperament, Couch said she is hopeful they’ll be able to adopt them out eventually.
Meanwhile, Peaches is believed to be about 1½ months pregnant.
For information on how to make a donation of money or supplies for these and the other animals at the shelter call 247-1671 for details.