Lakeway abandoned dogs healing; police search for animal cruelty suspect

It’s a dog's life. For one dog by the name of Gemma, it’s now a good life. She has a new home and Gus the pug, a new brother to play with. 

But it was a much different look a few weeks ago when Gemma arrived at the home of Mike and Mindy Henderson.

"It was heartbreaking to see her on that first day, the look in her eyes it was just expressionless," said Mindy Henderson.

Gemma is one of four dogs found in terrible condition by Lakeway police. They were all abandoned near the intersection of Duck Lake Dr. and Clubhouse Dr. Not all at once. The dumpings started back in February and has continued at the end of each following month.

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"And I'm thinking, am I going to get another one," said Lakeway Animal Control Officer Andrea Greig.

Greig is not sure if one person is responsible or if more are involved. The reason why also remains a mystery. But all the dogs did have serious health problems when they were found.

"I just know that it’s not right to leave an animal on the street in that condition, that can also infect people," said Officer Greig.

The dogs were sent to two rescue groups and given medical treatment. 

Michelle Goldberg, the leader of one of the organizations, Gold Ribbon Rescue, spoke to FOX 7. Goldberg said a lot of the animals surrendered right now were adopted at the beginning of the pandemic. They're called COVID dogs.

"It’s a struggle for some people to keep up with these dogs. We estimate that caring for a Golden Retriever cost about $2,500 a year with medical and grooming and food, and heartworm medication, heartworm prevention medication and as we are seeing a lot of these changes as a result of COVID and the economy, things are different for a lot of people," said Michelle Goldberg.

The rescue groups are also feeling the financial strain.

"We need donations to help fund the dogs medical needs, secondly we need more foster families like the two that stepped up to take Jewel and Gemma, that are willing to take a dog through whatever its needs are," said Goldberg.

Jewel, one of the first dogs to be found, is happy and spends time playing with her foster parents. She is getting adopted soon. Harry and Hope, the other two dogs, are being cared for by Highland Lakes Canine Rescue. 

It’s a tough process, that now involves emotional healing. The Hendersons who have Gemma say it’s worth it.

"To know she had to go through what she did, breaks my heart, but we are incredibly grateful that she has joined our family," said Mindy Henderson.

The recovery of all the dogs are also victories for Officer Greig.

"Oh it makes my day, that’s what keeps me going after 17 years," Greig said.

The job continues, which includes finding who abandoned the four dogs.