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Owner arrested for starving OC German shepherd

April 16, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A suspect was arrested for animal abuse Friday. Authorities say they've found the woman accused of starving a young German shepherd.Last week, 3-year-old "Courage" was found severely underweight and barely surviving by eating dirt and rocks in a Bellflower yard. Friday, authorities arrested a veterinary technician.

Authorities arrested Kimberly Nizato Friday at the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority in Downey.

Animal Control officials say they suspect the 26-year-old Bellfower resident starved the German shepherd she named "Bosco" for at least two months.

"I hope they throw the book at her, I really do," said Shawn Hollub, German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County volunteer.

His rescuers nicknamed the dog Courage after a Good Samaritan brought him to safety last week. The non-profit German Shepherd Rescue of Orange County has been caring for him, along with the Community Veterinary Hospital in Garden Grove.

Authorities say Courage weighed under 40 pounds, less than half of what a healthy German shepherd should weigh.

"He was weak, he couldn't lift his head. He was like a dead dog," said Hollub.

Investigators allege Nizato kept the dog in an airplane carrier in the home she shares with her parents and her daughter. She allegedly said she was feeding him.

However, officials say they found stones and dirt in his intestines.

"Really the dog was licking and scrapping at anything to put in his belly," said Southeast Area Animal Control Authority Captain Aaron Reyes.

Officials say Nizato has owned Courage since he was a puppy. What's disturbing to rescuers, she works as a veterinary technician in Irvine.

"It makes it that much worse. It's horrifying," said Hollub.

"Why didn't she get help? There were some statements made to the effect that I was a little embarrassed or a little ashamed working in vet community," said Reyes.

Courage is now in a foster home. His recovery is expected to take months. His owner is now facing animal cruelty charges.

"Hopefully it sends a message to a lot of other people you can't get away with doing this and treating animals this way," said Dr. William Grant, Community Veterinary Hospital chief of staff.

Authorities say Nizato could face up one to five years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine if convicted.


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