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UPDATE: Dog Neglected In Cage For Weeks Now Fights For His Life

Written by: Molly Weinfurter
Molly Weinfurter is a writer for iHeartDogs, and she’s passionate about helping animals in need. She volunteers for Bailing Out Benji and a local dog rescue.Read more
| Published on February 11, 2021

WARNING: Images and content might be sensitive to some readers.

Someone donating supplies to the Kentucky Humane Society (KHS) spotted something unusual on their way into the building. A malnourished dog was resting in the parking lot all alone. The person immediately notified the shelter, and staff rushed the dog to emergency care. He quickly earned the name Ethan, and while his odds of survival were small, shelter staff and vets fought for him.

Ethan still has a long road to recovery, but he’s going strong despite it all.

Ethan Neglected Dog
Image: @kyhumane/Facebook

The Worst Case of Neglect

This is one of the worst situations the shelter has ever witnessed. It’s suspected that Ethan was left alone in a crate for weeks with no food or water. Yet, it’s unclear if he was purposely neglected or if someone hadn’t meant to leave him alone for that long.

“Ethan is the thinnest dog I have ever seen that is still alive. He weighs 38 pounds, when he should be around 80 pounds,” KHS shelter veterinarian Dr. Emily Bewley said. “To get in this shape, he had to have been starved for weeks.”

Malnourished Rescue Dog
Image: @kyhumane/Facebook

Ethan is so thin you can see the outline of every bone in his body. He can’t support his own weight because he has extreme muscle loss. The shelter staff suspect he is young, around 3 or 4 years old.

Not long after Ethan’s arrival, his condition declined. He showed rapid breathing and neurological symptoms like twitching. Emergency vets rushed to help save his life. After proper care, his twitching decreased, and he even wagged his tail for the first time.

Dying Shelter Dog
Image: @kyhumane/Facebook

Ethan Fights for His Life

Ethan isn’t out of the woods yet, but he’s showing promising signs of recovery. Vets say they’re “cautiously optimistic” that he will survive this. He has already defied all odds, and it’s clear that he has a strong will to live.

“Ethan is still alive and is in critical but stable condition at the animal hospital. He has began eating and drinking again but he has to be held up to bite and swallow because he is too weak to hold up his own head. We are taking it very slow and steady and are hoping that he is strong enough to fight,” KHS wrote on Facebook.

Ethan eating
Image: @kyhumane/Facebook

This brave pup has already gained lots of love and support through social media posts. Everyone is rooting for him as he continues to make small improvements. KHS is still hoping to find out what happened to Ethan, so if you have any information on the incident, please contact Louisville Metro Animal Services at 502-473-7387.

Staff are also encouraging people to donate to help support Ethan and the other animals in their care. Updates on Ethan’s health will continue to be posted on the KHS Facebook page. It’s a miracle Ethan is still alive, and he looks like he will keep fighting for as long as he can.

Ethan Recovering
Image: @kyhumane/Facebook


Ethan continues to improve each and every day! Not only can he eat and drink without assistance, but he also loves to play with toys like any other dog. In fact, many kind animal lovers have donated toys to Ethan, making him the happiest pup in the world!

But the most exciting part of Ethan’s recovery is that he can now walk on his own. He’s still a little wobbly at times, but he has built enough muscle back to support his own weight. This is a huge improvement since he could barely lift his own head in the beginning.

Ethan recovery
Image: @kyhumane/Facebook

“He gets fed every few hours and always has a big appetite. Look how fast he came out of his nursery too! His legs are becoming less shaky and he’s slowly getting a little muscle on his body. We’re SO amazed and proud of this handsome guy’s progress. 12 days ago, we were holding his head up so he could attempt to eat and drink. We had no idea if he would survive and if he did, would he ever trust people again? Today, he loves people, he is eating and drinking on his own and showing the world exactly what the true meaning of resilience is. Keep cheering him on! It’s made all the difference!” wrote the Kentucky Humane Society.

Of course, Ethan still has a long way to go, but every day is another victory for this pup. He’s not ready for his forever home yet, but he greatly appreciates all the love and support he has received.

Featured Image: @kyhumane/Facebook

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