Owner of animal rescue claims couple severely neglected dog, leading to death

COLUMBUS, Ind.-- An Indiana woman is pressing charges after she says a neglected dog was dropped off at her animal rescue in Quincy.

Joanie Zupan owns Indiana GSD and Siberian Husky Rescue. She said last week a two-year-old German Shepherd named Riley was rescued from a home in Columbus.

Zupan said when her rescue received Riley, he was nearly 50 pounds underweight, had parasites, worms and was suffering from kidney failure. She said Riley was taken to a vet clinic in Brazil where he passed away not even a day later.

Dr. John Shepherd with Four Loving Paws Veterinary Services said when Riley was brought in, he was very sick, underweight and lacked energy.

He said it's uncommon for young dogs to be as sick as Riley was, especially to die within just a day of starting treatment.

Zupan said when Riley was brought in last week, it was apparent that he was neglected for quite some time.

“There needs to be some kind of justice done for Riley, but for all animals," said Zupan. "People like this need to realize that they aren’t just going to be yelled at, slapped on the wrist- they need go to jail.”

Zupan said she reached out to Riley's owners to tell them Riley had died and forewarned them that she was pressing charges.

“If you know you’re abandoning and hurting and neglecting an animal and then you are literally like, ‘I don’t care', and laugh about it...and that’s what we got," said Zupan. "That is scary.”

“Some believe that pet ownership is a 'right' and fail to prepare for or plan ahead for the responsibilities of pet ownership," said Dr. Shepherd. "While the law considers them personal property, they are a living being with thoughts, emotions, and feelings. There are considerations in time, finances, and level of activity that should be considered prior to getting a pet. We highly encourage future pet owners to come in for a consultation prior to obtaining a new pet to make sure their lifestyle matches the needs of the pet.”

Zupan said she wants Riley's owners to be held accountable and that she will continue to fight to find justice for Riley.

“This dog for as much as he was neglected, he didn’t hold any grudges," said Zupan. "None. He still wanted love and that’s what makes this so hard because we couldn’t show him that. It makes it hard.”

FOX59 obtained the incident report that Zupan filed with the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday. A detective on the case said the investigation is still in its early stages.

FOX59's Olivia McClellan reached out to Riley's owners but was unable to get a hold of them.