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Published: Friday, 2/21/2014 - Updated: 2 years ago

Puppy plucked from garbage can fails to thrive, dies

Pit Crew foster ‘pit bull’ Paisley nurses the newborn pup named Celia. Paisley had accepted Celia, and the newborn pup took to regular nursing. However, Celia stopped gaining weight. Pit Crew foster ‘pit bull’ Paisley nurses the newborn pup named Celia. Paisley had accepted Celia, and the newborn pup took to regular nursing. However, Celia stopped gaining weight.

A newborn puppy rescued from a garbage can in Toledo this month has died.

On Feb. 1, Celia was found still wet from birth with her umbilical cord and placenta attached. She had been wrapped in a plastic bag and dumped in a trash can behind a home on Rockingham Street when a neighbor went outside and heard her cries. The puppy was hypothermic but survived the night after treatment at an emergency clinic and was taken in by the Lucas County Pit Crew’s foster “pit bull” Paisley. Paisley just had lost her own litter of six puppies to illness and began nursing Celia.

The reasons for Celia’s death, sometime in the overnight hours just more than a week after she was found, are unknown. The baby appeared to thrive once paired with Paisley but later stopped gaining weight despite regular nursing.

“There's just no way to really know what happened,” Jean Keating, executive director of the Pit Crew, said. “It could have been effects from the hypothermia. It could have been nutrition because she never got colostrum from her mom. Maybe she was a runt. And maybe it was all that together.”

Dr. Brooke West, a veterinarian at the West Toledo Animal Hospital, had seen Celia and Paisley shortly after the puppy was taken in by the Pit Crew and said Celia was doing well. But puppies sometimes just don’t make it, a situation called “failure to thrive.”

“When these puppies are so little, it’s hard to say what happens,” she said. “We don’t get to have all the answers sometimes.”

Ms. Keating said the Pit Crew is heartbroken over not only Celia’s death but also the loss of Paisley's six puppies.

“It’s hard for everyone,” she said. “We knew going into this that it was a very high probability that the puppy would not make it. But the best chance she had of living was being with a mother dog and getting real milk, not replacements.”

When Paisley’s own pups became ill at about two weeks old, the Pit Crew had to take them from her to get them medical treatment. They all died away from their mother, who spent a few days looking for her puppies.

Paisley then accepted Celia and appeared to be happy. Even though the new puppy’s death is saddening, it seems to have allowed the “pit bull” to gain closure she didn’t have the chance to get before.

“Honestly, this helped her,” Ms. Keating said. “With her other puppies, they didn’t die with her. Celia passed away at night with Paisley. Dogs know and understand when other animals pass away. They accept it, and Paisley seems like she’s OK now. She’s healing.”

An investigation by the Toledo Area Humane Society into how Celia wound up in the garbage has stalled. Gene Boros, the animal-cruelty investigator handling the case, said no one has come forward with any information. He has been unable to reach the owner of the property where Celia was found, despite phone calls and an in-person visit to the neighborhood during which he knocked on the door at the house.

“It’s a little frustrating,” he said. “I have no way of proving who may have done it, and no one is stepping forward as a witness.”

Mr. Boros said it is possible that the property owner was not responsible for Celia’s treatment.

“It’s happened before with dead dogs being thrown in [private] trash cans, or thrown over fences into someone’s yard,” he said. “What would really be nice would be if we could find someone who saw this happen or knows the person who did it and they talked about it.”

Anyone who may have information related to Celia is asked to call the humane society’s animal cruelty hotline at 419-891-9777.

Contact Alexandra Mester: amester@theblade.com, 419-724-6066, or on Twitter @AlexMesterBlade.

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