Missing Apex dog found with extensive burns all over its body

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Tuesday, August 1, 2023
Dog in Apex put down after being severely burned: Sheriff
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The Wake County Sheriff's Office is investigating possible animal cruelty after a severely burned dog was discovered by Animal Control and had to be humanely put down.

APEX, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake County Sheriff's Office is investigating a case of animal cruelty after a severely burned dog was discovered by Animal Control and had to be put down.

Choppa, a 4-year-old pit bull, was first discovered missing July 27 by his owner's friend, who had been watching after the dog at her home in Apex. A few hours later, a neighbor called Wake County Animal Services, who found him a few blocks away, near Craig Drive and Stephenson Road in Apex with chemical burns over 60 percent of his body.

"How could anybody just (burn an animal) and stand there and look at it? It's inhumane," said Sara Horton, whose granddaughter Shantika owned Choppa. Horton described the dog as sweet and good with people.

"He was a very loving dog; he was very playful," she said. "And he had this way where, when he would come up to you and he would put his little paw up for a handshake. Shantika taught him that."

Dr. Jennifer Federico, Wake County's Animal Services director, called it an unusually bad case of abuse.

"All four legs were burned, the side of his face, his ears. So he had a lot of damage done to him," she said.

Federico said Choppa was taken to their emergency clinic, before they made the difficult decision to put him down due to the severity of his pain and injuries. She said her office contacted the Wake County Sheriff's Office to investigate possible animal cruelty.

Now, Horton is warning other pet owners to stay vigilant.

"It could happen to any family," she said. "Everybody's got a pet, everybody loves their pet. And they wouldn't want something like this to happen to their animals."

Wake County Sheriff's Office said the primary focus right now is piecing together what happened between when Choppa was last seen, and when the phone tip to Animal Services was placed. Both agencies are asking anyone with information to come forward.