One of two emaciated puppies dumped in Riverhead last week died Christmas night after a case of mange so severe that its skin peeled off when it was picked up, said the Suffolk County Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The reward in the case has been upped from $2,000 to $3,000, SPCA chief Roy Gross said Wednesday. "He had to be kept on intravenous fluids because he was too weak to eat, but unfortunately, he did not survive," Gross said in a statement.
The two pit bull puppies were "near death" when they were dumped in a 6-foot-deep window well at the Riverhead Animal Hospital some time between midnight and 6 a.m. on Dec. 18, Gross said. The two appeared to be siblings less than 6 months old, he said.
The male puppy was in worse condition than the female puppy, the SPCA said.
"They said the skin, when it was picked up, was coming off their hands," Gross had said. "It's a very, very severe skin disorder and from my understanding, very, very painful as well."
Mange is treatable, but the care is complicated, including shampooing, and it can take months for animals to be cured. The condition can be caused by several types of mites that live on the hair and skin, resulting in hair loss, skin lesions, itchiness, inflammation and even immune problems if the infestation is severe. It's highly contagious between animals and often humans.
"I would think they were severely neglected from birth," Gross had said. "I want to apprehend the perpetrators for doing this. This had to have happened over a period of time. It doesn't happen overnight that animals will get in a condition like this.
"You just don't get used to this. How can somebody do that is a question that's always asked. I don't have an answer for that."
The SPCA is asking for donations toward the other puppy's medical care. She'll be up for adoption after she recovers.
Also, anyone with information can call with confidential tips at 631-382-7722. The $3,000 reward is for the conviction of those responsible.