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Dog found starved, covered in human waste, at Guelph, Ont. conservation area

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A dog, starving and covered in human waste, was found abandoned Sunday in the public washroom of a Guelph, Ont. conservation area.

The Chihuahua, now known as Cleo, was trapped in an in ground holding tank – something her rescuers say wasn’t an accident.

“We all felt some disbelief and shock when she was found in those conditions,” Lisa Veit, the executive director of the Guelph Humane Society, said Tuesday. “She was scared, nervous. The only way that she could have wound up in a tank was for her to have been put in there.”

Cleo was discovered around 10 a.m. by an officer at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area, just north of the city.

Washroom at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area where Cleo the Chihuahua was found. (Shelby Knox/CTV Kitchener)

The washroom is set back near the woods and, in order to access the single-room structure, someone would have had to force open the wooden door. Inside, a hollow cylinder rises more than a foot out of the floor and connects to the waste holding tank.

Cleo was found at the bottom, covered in human urine and feces.

Washroom at the Guelph Lake Conservation Area where Cleo the Chihuahua was found. (Shelby Knox/CTV Kitchener)

Her rescuers still aren’t sure how long she was in the tank. The Chihuahua appeared malnourished and severely underweight, and they believe she hadn’t eaten for several days.

Cleo was then taken to a veterinary clinic where she was bathed, groomed and fed.

Staff said she had red marks on her belly and legs, likely from being left in that disgusting environment. Cleo was also suffering from severe dental disease and will need surgery to remove her teeth.

The Guelph Humane Society calls the situation troubling.

“This was certainly a very extreme case of abandonment,” Veit said. “We do see cases of abandonment on a regular basis. Really hard to imagine how she was left in those circumstances.”

The incident is now being investigated by the Provincial Animal Welfare Service, also known as PAWS.

CTV News reached out the organization for comment but they didn’t respond by our deadline.

Cleo, who is estimated to be about 6-years-old, is currently being cared for by the shelter.

She’ll need to fully recover from her ordeal before she’s put up for adoption.

“She’s such a sweet dog,” Veit added. “She likes to be held, she’s very trusting.”

Cleo the Chihuahua in a photo from the Guelph Humane Society.

Veit is also urging pet owners to reach out if they need help.

“If you are unable to care for an animal, we ask that you please contact GHS to arrange a surrender or other assistance. GHS offers several programs to assist pet owners in distress. Leaving animals on their own without care is inhumane.” 

Anyone with information on Cleo’s circumstances is asked to call PAWS at 1-833-926-4625.

Veit added that donations to assist with Cleo’s care can also be made to the Guelph Humane Society.

- With reporting by Tyler Kelaher

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