COLUMBUS, Ind. -- The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office has decided not to press charges in the death of a dog that was severely underweight when it died last month.
Riley, a two-year-old German Shepherd from Quincy in Owen county, died November 12 after he was rescued by an animal activist who saw pictures of him with his rib cage showing through his fur.
Investigators found Riley – who had multiple owners -- was indeed underweight, as pictures shared with RTV6 at the top of this story show. Riley was also found to have parasites called whipworms and coccidia living inside him.
Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers said two local veterinarian offices confirmed they had treated Riley for whipworms and coccidia. Whipworms can cause, among other problems, weight loss that weakens the dog. Coccidia can cause diarrhea and other problems.
But Joanie Zupan, who runs an animal shelter called Indiana GSD & Siberian Husky Rescue, Inc , claims there's a lot more to this story.
Zupan said Riley’s owners were moving, wanted a new home for him, and found prospective new owners. Zupan said they noticed Riley had to be carried from his owners’ vehicle and he looked malnourished. Zupan said when they asked about that, Riley’s owners claimed he was healthy and had been taken to the vet.
Zupan said Riley was adopted, but didn’t get along with his new owners’ dog, so was given to another owner. That’s when Zupan said she learned about Riley, who saw the pictures of him and adopted him herself. Riley then died after Zupan said she tried to get him medical help.
“I’m going to be honest here… rescuing a dog that’s neglected but not having the funds to do it can make you a neglecter as well. I’m just being blunt and honest there, which I am with everybody,” Zupan said in a Facebook live video posted on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s announcement led to a discussion on the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Facebook page. Some praised the effort and detail of the investigation.
But critics – who are numerous – claimed a dog doesn’t end up in Riley’s condition overnight, and that coccidia can be treated successfully with antibiotics.
Sheriff Myers responded by promising the investigation was thorough and the evidence showed there was no reason to make an arrest.
Meanwhile, Zupan said she will be allowed to review the evidence of the case. If wrongdoing is found, she said she plans to work on drafting a bill called “Riley’s Law” to prevent cases like this in the future.
Zupan also said she plans to file a civil lawsuit against Riley’s original owners to cover medical bills she had to pay.
A private Facebook group called Justice for Riley has been started, as has the hashtag #JusticeForRiley to make it easier to track updates.