Caitlyn, a 15-month-old chocolate Staffordshire bull terrier mix, was a well-known stray in the Chicora-Cherokee neighborhood of North Charleston. She was left on someone’s doorstep on Wednesday with black electrical tape wrapped around her muzzle so tightly that her tongue was caught between her teeth.
The tape was apparently there for three days, according to the Charleston Animal Society, which took charge of the dog’s care last week.
North Charleston police arrested William Leonard Dodson, 41, on suspicion of the crime, said Ryan Johnson, spokesman for the City of Charleston. Dodson faces a charge of ill treatment of an animal involving torture. The crime is punishable by up to five years in jail and a $5,000 fine, according Charleston Animal Society Director of Anti-Cruelty Aldwin Roman.
Prayers and best wishes flooded the animal society’s Facebook page after it shared her story. New Jersey artist Janet O’Neil painted a portrait of the pup that was shared on social media over the weekend with the hashtag #Caitlyn.
The dog was transferred to Veterinary Specialty Care in Mount Pleasant on Friday. She started receiving hyperbaric treatments every 12 hours to improve the damaged tissue in her mouth and cold laser therapy to promote healing, Senior Director of Veterinary Care Lucy Fuller said. She underwent a small surgical procedure on her lip Saturday, but there is not currently a procedure planned for her tongue.
“We are still waiting to see how well her body will heal on its own,” Fuller said in an email.
Caitlyn is eating on her own after graduating from intravenous fluids and antibiotics to normal food and oral medications.
“We have the greatest of hopes for this beautiful girl,” Fuller said.
The animal society hopes the case will draw attention to animal cruelty and the importance of caring for stray animals. It is also asking the public for donations to a medical fund.