BALITMORE (WJZ) — Michele Maszon had to get gas Tuesday morning, so instead of taking her usual route to work, the Hampden resident took a different way.
As she drove near the I-83 exit ramp to Falls Road, she noticed a dog tied up by his leash to a masonry stone.
She stopped her car to get a better look at the dog — who barked and growled when she came near.
The mixed-breed dog was emaciated, Maszon said, his nails overgrown making it hard for him to move about. He was sitting next to a bucket of food, a bucket of water, and a blanket.
“He was so distressed,” Maszon said.
Temperatures were expected to rise into the 90s that day, with a heat index over 100. She couldn’t leave him alone there.
“I was livid,” she said.
It was 6:15 a.m., hours before the nearby Maryland SPCA would open. So Maszon called the city’s 311 line and spoke with an operator.
The operator, who was sympathetic about the situation, told Maszon that it could take several hours for the city to respond. Maszon said she’d stay with the dog until help arrived from the Maryland SPCA.
The SPCA took the dog, who they named Jimmy Boy, inside their facility to evaluate him. Several hours later, he was still in bad condition.
It was found that the 15 to 16-year-old had cancer, so the SPCA decided to put him down humanely.
Tina Regester, with the Maryland SPCA, said although it isn’t a regular occurrence, there are times the SPCA will find dogs tied up outside the facility.
Regester said they don’t know if the owners are surrendering their dogs or if someone found a stray and had to run to work.
She wasn’t sure how long Jimmy Boy may have been left outside, but dehydration wasn’t the reason they decided to euthanize him.
“Dr. Burks, the SPCA’s director of veterinary services, said that his symptoms–including muscle wasting—were indicative of a terminal illness like cancer,’ Regester said in an email. “His breathing was actually labored. It was very sad to see him struggling to breath.”
Every time the Maryland SPCA takes in an animal, they will check it for a microchip to hopefully find its owner.
If it’s a stray with no identification, they’ll keep it for three days so an owner can claim the animal. They’ll provide a wellness check and an assessment of the animal’s condition, including its behavior, and then they’ll spay or neuter the animal if needed before adopting it out.
After Maszon shared the news on Facebook, her friends were outraged. They asked her to report it to police as well, which Maszon said she did.
Two officers responded to her home and took her report, she said. They also followed up with the SPCA.
Maszon, who spoke with WJZ about finding the dog, sobbed as she described learning the dog was euthanized.
“I am looking for justice for Jimmy Boy, who was left to die on the side of the road due to a cowardly yet selfish act of a heartless person or persons,” Maszon said.
She commended the police officers, the SPCA, and the 311 operator who were sympathetic and tried to help Jimmy Boy.
Regester said unfortunately, sometimes owners have to surrender their dogs.
“We’re an animal shelter,” she said. “But our mission is to help pets and people.”
She said the SPCA offers assistance to pet owners struggling to provide their pets with food, and also have a behavioral specialist who can work with pets to help curb issues.
“Is there a way we can help them? What can we do to keep the pet in the home?” Regester said.
She said if a owner feels like they must surrender their animal, there’s two options the SPCA offers.
On their website, there’s a rehoming section — where pet owners can find new homes for their animals and pick their pets next owner.
If that’s not an option, Regester said the owner should make an appointment to surrender their pet to the SPCA. They should bring along any medical information or anything that would help the SPCA understand their pet’s history. Owners will not get in trouble with the law for using either of these options.
As a reminder, Regester said it is illegal to leave your pet tied up outside the SPCA.
The SPCA helps 3,500 animals a year find new homes. To help the SPCA with their mission, you can donate to MDSPCA.org/give.