SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - After a public outcry, the rescued pit-bull pup found wasting away and chained up in a Shreveport storage facility in September has reportedly been released by Caddo Animal Control to a local veterinarian.
Braveheart's heartbreaking story has been capturing hearts as it's made the rounds on Facebook over the past few days. A petition is circulating and a protest was planned for Friday morning outside Caddo Animal Control over the seizure of the dog as part of an abuse investigation.
The 4-month old pit bull was found chained inside a storage unit in the 2900 block of Youree Drive back on September 11. Shreveport police say the animal was believed to have been abandoned there for several days. He was emaciated and barely alive.
He was rescued, treated and placed in foster care, but on Wednesday, Caddo Animal Control took custody of the dog as part of an investigation into his abuse. He's been in isolation at the shelter ever since.
While police made the initial report upon Braveheart's discovery, Caddo Parish Animal Services began investigating the abuse after learning about it from a local reporter on Wednesday. That's when the dog was taken from his foster family, Bo and Ronda Spataro.
Now, the Spataros are fighting to get Braveheart back, citing concerns that he needs the attention and care of his foster family in order to survive. They are also upset at the idea of the puppy, nicknamed Brave, would be back in a cage after the trauma he suffered inside the storage unit.
On Thursday afternoon, Caddo Animal Control Director Everett Harris addressed those concerns. Harris says that under parish law, Braveheart cannot be released to anyone for at least 15 days, and then only after the investigation is complete. Harris also says that the vet caring for Braveheart had a legal responsibility to call animal control so that an investigation could have been started immediately.
"Braveheart will be released back to my husband and I , and back into our care, and back into our home where he is loved," said Ronda Spataro after the news conference.
Late Thursday night, Spartaro announced on her Facebook page that "Braveheart is not with us yet but is safely under the care of an anonymous Caddo Veterinarian."
Spartaro went on to say, "I cannot comment on this any further as the criminal investigation is ongoing. Hopefully this will be resolved soon and he will be back home with us. Thank you all for your outpouring of love and support."
According to parish attorney Donna Frazier, it has never been policy to house an animal that is the subject of an abuse investigation with a foster family. Frazier also points out that the owner's rights are not terminated until a prosecution has taken place.
"We have to make sure that whoever had this animal and put this animal in these conditions, are charged prosecuted to the full extent of the law," says Harris.
The new owners of the storage unit were the ones that discovered the dog. They say they only have the first name of the person renting the unit where he was found, as that information was all they have been able to find among the previous owner's records. The say they are working with investigators to track that person down.
Supporters of Braveheart's return to his foster family have created a petition on change.org, which already gathered more than 10,000 signatures in just over 1 day. The petition was closed as of Thursday night.
A protest was set to take place at 8 a.m. Friday outside Caddo Animal Control, but the organizer "temporarily" called it off late Thursday, "with the understanding that if he is not returned to Bo and Ronda, they will see us along with several other," according to the update on the Facebook event created by Justin Thomas. "Bo and Ronda visited him tonight, and he is safe and well. We will not rest until he is back where he needs to be."