ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A dog, nearly dead from starvation, is just starting a slow recovery.
Now the Santa Fe Animal Shelter wants to know how it ended up in such bad shape in the first place.
The dog was found in Pojoaque with a collar but no tags, so the shelter is offering a $1,000 reward for information on the dog's circumstances or his owners.
Ben Gomez said he was walking his dog in Monday evening like he does every day when his dog starting barking at something ahead.
“At first I didn't know what it was, and then I did a double-look," Gomez said. "Sure enough, it was a dog, but it was all skin and bones. The fur was just hanging off the bones."
The dog was barely walking, and refused food and water, he said. Gomez immediately called the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.
“He was trying to bite me to defend himself, but his bite process was so slow. It was like slow-motion biting. I just felt really bad for the dog,” Gomez said.
At the shelter Wednesday the male dog seemed to be doing a little better, looking up when he was called and slowly wagging his tail.
But Dr. Jennifer Steketee, medical director at the shelter, said the 2-year-old mixed breed is about 30 pounds underweight.
“This is probably the worst case that I've seen,” she said. “We see a lot of skinny dogs and cats, but this is pretty severe.”
Steketee has the dog, now dubbed Raphael at the shelter, on a very strict diet.
“As much as he would like it and we would like it to give him as much as he wants right now, if we did that it could cause him severe medical problems,” Steketee said. “So we have to feed him small amounts at first and work him up to a normal amount when he can start to actually gain weight again.”
She said this week is critical, and they're watching over him closely. Then he will be able to start putting on the weight, which could take a few months.
Gomez stopped by the shelter to check on Raphael Wednesday and said he'll continue following his progress.
“When I saw his tail wag, that just brought me smiles and little happy tears, so I was happy to see him react and that he's in good hands now,” Gomez said.
The shelter said Raphael will likely go into a foster care program in a week or so during his recovery before going up for adoption.
A shelter spokesman said, on top of taking in dogs if owners can't care for them any longer, they also have a pet-food assistance program to prevent cases like this.
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