The bond between an officer and a police dog is supposed to be very special. Ingo, a German shepherd, was a proud member of the Watsonville Police Department. To warn you, the details in this story are disturbing.
The SPCA for Monterey County took photos of Ingo to show how emaciated he was when he was seized a month ago. The former police dog weighed 55 pounds, when a normal German shepherd should be 80 to 90 pounds. His owner, former Watsonville police officer Francisco Ibarra, told humane officers Ingo was being fed. However, veterinarians found otherwise when they examined him.
"They did X-rays of his stomach. There was no food-like substance in his stomach. Ingo's feces contained dirt, sand, grass hair, rocks, pieces of green plastic, so it does appear he was just kind of foraging to get by," said Sgt. Stacy Sanders, a SPCA investigator.
Ingo is on the rebound, eating several times a day. He is now up to 70 pounds, but he still shows a lack of muscle mass.
"The only thing right now that we're trying to get over is having more muscle in the spine area back here and more in the pelvis area as well," said Cecilio Lozano, a community services officer.
The community around Watsonville has a vested interest in how Ingo does because they got together and raised about $7,500 in order to acquire him for the police department.
Ingo's owner, Ibarra, will be facing animal cruelty charges in Monterey County. He lives in Salinas. He was allowed to keep Ingo after he left the police department.
Ingo is playful and energetic. He has bonded with Sanders and Lozano. They say Ingo displays the instincts of a working police dog. He's vigilant, and he expects to be rewarded for his obedience -- signs that bode well for his recovery.
"It's a hard road when you have a dog that's that thin. Physically and emotionally, mentally to get that dog back to where he needs to be -- a good, healthy, happy dog -- it takes its toll on the animal, and you couldn't tell by looking at him today. He's just so happy and having a good time here," said Sanders.
SPCA officials expect Ingo will eventually be put up for adoption, but while his recovery is going great, the process will be a slow one.