"Brad Pitt" (not his real name) has, in the space of a month, gone from a fearful, emaciated, feces-covered canine to a healthy, sweet-tempered, friendly, sweetheart of a dog while in the care of the county's Animal Control officers and Volunteers for Animals.
"Pitt" was seemingly abandoned by his owners in Apt. 60, 337 Bank St., Batavia. He was found on May 10 in a cage inside the apartment without food, covered in his own fecal matter, and skinny and weak.
A female Pitbull was found in the same apartment, also in a cage, also in poor health -- so poor that by the time a veterinarian determined what to do for her, the most humane option was to euthanize her.
The two people who allegedly abandoned the dogs are Andrew A. Searight, 35, and Jerrtonia A. Scarbrough, 24. Both have been charged with felony aggravated cruelty to animals.
According to court documents, a maintenance worker at Walden Estates was aware of the dogs and the owners and also believed the couple had stopped paying rent sometime prior to May. He and a neighbor had observed the residents moving out of the apartment some days to a week or so prior to May 10. On that date, the worker observed trash piled up outside the apartment. He spoke to a neighbor who said he hadn't seen the occupants for a week or two.
The female dog had given birth some weeks prior, according to the neighbor, and he had witnessed, he said, the residents removing the puppies and a TV.
The worker asked if the adult dogs were still inside, and the neighbor said he believed they were still in the apartment.
The worker looked into the apartment and saw one of the dogs in a cage.
Concerned about the health and safety of the dogs, both the property manager and the neighbor entered the apartment through an unlocked door and found two Pitbulls locked in cages, unfed, and covered in "shit," as the neighbor said in his statements.
"The black dog looked terrified and almost dead," the neighbor wrote. "The other dog looked terrified, shocked, and couldn't even stand, so we had to pull him from the crate. He had no strength at all."
He contacted the property manager and asked her to call the police. Officer Peter Flannigan and Sarah Fountain, a county animal control officer, responded.
Fountain wrote that when she arrived she found the dogs in the condition described by the witnesses and that the black dog, the female dog, was cold to the touch.
Both dogs were assisted to the animal control vehicle, with the female dog carried on a stretcher.
A normal dog's temperature is between 100 and 102 degrees. The female dog's temperature was 93.3, the veterinarian told Fountain.
The dog "had no reserves and, basically, her body was shutting down," Fountain reports the vet telling her. She was down to 20.4 pounds and should have weighed at least 40 pounds.
The vet did not expect the female dog to recover so it was euthanized.
The male Pitbull -- who has acquired the nickname "Brad Pitt" while at the shelter -- has been put on a thrice-a-day feeding plan and was up to 45.9 pounds by the time Fountain wrote her report for investigators. She could not discuss his current condition today since there is still a criminal case pending.
Searight was originally scheduled for an appearance in City Court yesterday, but the case has been moved to 1:30 p.m. June 21.
Legally, Searight and Scarbrough still own the dog. Typically in animal abuse cases, the defendants are asked during the proceedings to surrender the dogs to Animal Control, at which point, the animal can be put up for adoption.
Fountain also reported finding a cockatiel in the apartment. She couldn't assess its health condition and The Batavian doesn't have information on its status.