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Dog found malnourished showing signs of recovery, now in foster care

Nina Kelso certainly has her supporters -- friends and family members who have argued passionately on Facebook and on The Batavian that those who judge her and heap insults upon her and even threaten her don't know the full story.

She would never abuse an animal and her dog was ill not from mistreatment, they say, but because he unintentionally ate something toxic.

Darren Dewitt:

Don't judge this one too soon. I've known Nina for years and something is off with this whole deal. My understanding is that the dog was dying and instead of having the vet put it down she let it live out its days at home with the family. The court has the final word.

Lynda Kelso:

Can't help it when a DOG does what DOGS do and gets into something and it makes them sick. ... He got sick and was vomiting. How do u loose weight when u get sick? He was weak from what he ate. They were trying to get food in there right down to baby formula.

Nina Kelso's case began at 6:08 p.m., Feb. 4, when Sgt. Chris Camp and Officer Jamie Givens responded to a report on Hutchins Street of a malnourished dog.

When they arrived they spotted a canine inside that, according to the officers, was emaciated and couldn't stand on its own.

Dr. Fran Woodworth of State Street Animal Hospital was contacted to assist with the health care of the animal.

Woodworth said she arrived at the aninmal hospital around 7:30 and found a dog that was severally malnourished.

"He was emaciated and mentally he was dull and disoriented," Woodworth said. "I don't know how much of that was starvation or, the officers told me that his owner said he had gotten into potentially toxic substances, cigarette butts and incense oil or something along those lines, and that was why he was in shape in that he was in and had lost all that weight in just a couple of days. I don't know if he had gotten into some toxic substances, but he was definitely mentally not normal. He was just very depressed."

The dog had an intestinal infection, pressure-point sores and was blind.

Animal Control Officer James Sheflin began his investigation into the case the morning after the dog was brought to State Street. He took pictures and examined the dog and consulted with the District Attorney's Office on possible appropriate charges against Kelso (she was charged with torturing or injuring an animal, failure to provide sustenance, and owning/harboring an unlicensed dog).

"Honestly, he's the worst shape I've ever seen," Sheflin said. "The sores were over all his entire body. His feet were swollen two or three times what they should have been. His nails were overgrown. He literally didn't have enough strength to stand up. All he could do was lay down."

State Street staff monitored the dog's progress, unsure during those first 12 hours or so if the dog was going to make it.

But after 12 hours, the dog showed enough progress to warrant continued treatment.

Soon, he gained enough strength to stand up and he showed an interest again in eating.

The dog was brought in on a Tuesday and by Saturday it was in good enough health to be transferred to a foster family through Volunteers for Animals.

It's impossible to tell for sure, Woodsworth said, whether the dog ate anything toxic.

"Toxins are typically very short-lived," Woodsworth said. "They do their damage and then there is no sign of them in any blood test. They are gone. There was nothing in the blood work that was tagged as a sign of a toxin."

There's no indication the dog was brought to a vet for treatment prior to Camp and Givens picking them up, Woodworth said.

"He was overloaded with intestinal worms," Woodworth said. "There were pressure sores on all contact points, particularly his elbows and hind legs from being recumbent for so long. He hadn't eaten in weeks and was weak. That kind of emaciation doesn't just happen overnight.

"As far as I know," Woodworth added, "the owner never sought out veterinary help. What the dog needed was better nutritional care and parasite control and better health maintenance."

Woodworth isn't sure why the dog is blind or if the blindness will last. It's a problem in the dog's brain, not with the dog's eyes, she said.

That could be caused by a toxin, she said.

His mental state, depression, could also be the result of a "toxic insult," Woodworth said.

If the dog did ingest something toxic, veterinary treatment sooner would have been advised, she said.

"In fairness to her, the problems that I saw in the dog were primarily starvation and being recumbent too long," Woodworth said. "I didn't find any injuries inflicted by being kicked or being abused violently in that manner."

Woodworth is hopeful about the dog's improving health even if the prognosis isn't yet settled. The dog is in a good place now and that can only help him recover.

"It's too early to say if he will recover his sight," Woodworth said. "He retained his blindness after getting back on his feet, but he's acting normal otherwise. It was a joyful thing for us to see him on his feet and be interested in food by the next morning. He became rather attached to one of our technicians and began begging her for treats. He really showed some dramatic improvement in a short amount of time."

The Batavian tried to contact Nina Kelso through Facebook earlier today so she could tell her side of the story and have not received a response.

UPDATE: Nina Kelso contacted me about an hour after this story was published and said she prefers not to comment while her legal case is pending.

PHOTO: Batavia PD.

Brenda Gill
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For the cost of those cigarettes that this dog supposedly ate she could have gotten medical care for her dog.

Kyle Couchman
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Nothing more to say on this except that I think her supporters will be awfully quiet now that more "facts" are brought to light. I am glad to hear that this poor darling is getting better and showing the will to live and love again. Hopefully she gets a second chance to find a truly loving home.

Steve Hackett
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Howard.... I would appreciate it if you could tell me where and to whom I can make a contribution towards the cost of getting this poor dog back on his feet.... Thank you.

Bob Harker
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Us too, Howard.

Mark Brudz
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Might be a good Idea to post a contact number or address to donate to Howard, or send me one in an email

Steve Hackett
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I am the assistant manager at advantage auto at 238 west main street in Batavia. Across the street from ken Barrett Chevrolet. On Friday from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm, if you stop down and make a 10.00$ donation towards the care and treatment of this poor boy, I will personally put a set of new anco summer wiper blades on your vehicle, free of charge. All applications may not apply. A discount will be given if your vehicle does not apply to the anco summer blades.
Lori Silvernail
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Holy cow, Steve, that's a very generous offer! Kudos!!!

Beth Kinsley
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I sure wish I could adopt this poor guy. He deserves to spend the rest of his life in a good home being spoiled to death.

darren dewitt
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when i made that comment, i sure wasn't expecting to see a picture like that afterwards. However i will stand by it. there are some obvious signs of neglect, but i don't know nor did i ever claim to know all of the circumstances. Law enforcement is involved, maybe a trial, and judgment will be made then. it'll probably never see a trial though. the DA will offer a plea, in fear of losing in court. and she"ll take it, in fear of losing in court. isn't that the way it works? Never once in the 10 or so years I've known Nina have i ever got the impression that she'd be capable of such a thing. but, i have been wrong in the past.

as far as donating money... im sure Dr Fran, being as awesome as she is (i know this because she is my dogs vet) will be glad to donate her time and resources on this one. If the dog survives it will end up at the shelter, and thats where donations will do the most good. quote that Howard lol

Greg Rada
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Steve is always a stand up guy. Major props to you my friend!

Though it's too bad I already got new wipers last week. Lol

Jeff Allen
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Regardless of the circumstances leading to the dogs condition or who is at fault, Steve's gesture is compassionate and classy...thanks Steve!

barb king
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Feel free to stop by and donate even though your wipers are new. Darn rich people flaunting their vehicle upkeep.SMH

Greg Rada
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Actually it was more a joke between us since I use to work with Steve and that's where I bought my wipers. Oh and the only thing I'm rich in is God's love. Smile

Doug Yeomans
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The dog was loaded with worms, emaciated, covered in sores, obviously dehydrated and starving. Nothing causes those things other than neglect when it gets to that point.

I had a dog that got whip worms one year. Once the vet saw her, she gave her the right meds and subcutaneous hydration and the dog recovered quickly. I had to sanitize the back lawn where the dogs always did their business, too.

Owning a pet sometimes requires taking care of it. This is just a pathetic case of animal neglect. She should be sentenced to cleaning cages and feeding the animals at the shelter for a year.

tim raines
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Cleaning cages? Feeding animals at a shelter for punishment.?

Thousands of people do that everyday as volunteers in animal shelters.

Where I live animal cruelty is a felony.

If convicted, she would definately get 3 years.

Doug Yeomans
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Tim, for some people it's rewarding, for her it would obviously be a punishment. I don't want to have to pay for her room and board for three years. Maybe she could give a portion of her income to the animal shelter for 3 years. Instead of us paying to feed her, clothe her and keep her warm, she can pay for and take care of the animals at the shelter. Seems warranted and justified to me.

Kathy Owen
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One good outcome from this, I got to meet Steve Hackett. He 's a class act and a very compassionate man. Human or animal, I'm sure Steve's passion for helping right wrongs will always be in him. A heartfelt thanks to you Steve!

Steve Hackett
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The classy ones are people like you Kathy, that took the time to pitch in and stand up for something that matters.... It was my pleasure.... We raised 360.00$....thank you to everyone who participated...we made a difference today.... The money will be turned over to foxer tomorrow at noon....

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