By Kimberly Eiten

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The owner of a dog that died in Baltimore County after allegedly being left out in the cold has been charged with animal abuse.

In late December, calls came in about a dog freezing outside in Arbutus. Animal control told WJZ at the time they couldn’t do anything because he had access to a dog door.

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Behind a fence — the place that was supposed to be a safe haven, a shelter — became a death sentence for the dog, prosecutors say.

This picture of Oscar, the 12-year-old chow chow mix, spread like wildfire on Facebook.

Covered in snow and huddled in icy grass, neighbors say he was moaning and crying for help throughout the night, writing “the owner will not bring him in.”

Nearly three months later, investigators say the cold wasn’t Oscar’s only killer. Our media partner The Baltimore Sun reports he was starving, arthritic and lacking veterinary care.

Selvin Gnanakkan, 42, is charged with three counts of animal cruelty and two for making false statements to police. He goes to court in June, and the misdemeanor charges each carry a maximum penalty of 90 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.

“It’s a really tragic thing to think that this animal endured that,” said Deb Stone, chair of the Baltimore County Animal Services Advisory Commission.

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Stone wants to know if Oscar could have been saved and if county services should have been his savior.

“So the question becomes, did Baltimore County Animal Services’ policies, procedures or personnel fail Oscar? And could they have failed other animals as well?” she asked.

The Sun reports animal services had a dozen complaints alleging animal abuse tied to Gnanakkan’s Arbutus address.

The night of Oscar’s death, Stone says another 20 calls for help were made, but no officer went to the home. She wants to know why.

“Hopefully, we can prevent something like this from happening again,” Stone said.

A necropsy found that Oscar died of hypothermia, according to The Sun.

Last week, a bill in Baltimore County was announced to protect pets from abuse. It also brings a change in law enforcement, moving investigations from animal control to a specialized animal abuse unit in the police department. The team is expected to be running by the end of March.

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