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Dog starved, woman charged in Laurens Co.

LAURENS CO., S.C. (WSPA) - An Upstate woman faces animal cruelty charges after investigators say a dog was found at her home"near death."  

Investigators with the Laurens County Sheriff's Office said Friday say the one year-old Mastiff mix was emaciated, severely malnourished, full of maggots and worms when animal control showed up this week and found the dog now being called "Champ" tied to a tree behind a home on Lisbon Road in Laurens.

According to animal control officials with the county, the dog was in the care of the homeowner Elizabeth James and had gone without food or water for at least 30 consecutive days.

According to the lead investigator on the case, James told investigators her ex-boyfriend left the dog at her house about a month ago.

Sheriff's Captain Chris Martin told 7News James said she knowingly did not feed or care for the dog and then changed her story to claim the dog refused to eat food she provided.

"She intentionally did not feed this dog. This dog was on her property. She sees the dog everyday and see his conditions are worse. She could have stepped up, contacted law enforcement, animal control, she could have put this dog on Facebook and tried to find a home for the dog. She just chose not to," said Martin. 

"Inhumane treatment of animals will not be tolerated on my watch," said Sheriff Don Reynolds. "No animal should have to go without food and water."

A rescue group adopted "Champ." He is being treated at a 24-hour vet clinic in Columbia.

In a phone conversation Friday, Jackie O'Sullivan with "Rescue Dogs Rock NYC" told 7News vets caring for "Champ" have said a dog Champ's age should weigh approximately 100 pounds but he's half that weight and not out of the woods yet.

A Facebook page created by the rescue group called "Justice for Champ" so far had raised a little more than $1,000 as of Friday evening to help pay for his care.

James was released on $15,000 bond.

If she's convicted on her ill treatment of an animal charge, she could pay up to $1,000 in fines and spend up to 90 days in jail.


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