Ziggy, the Shih Tzu-type dog that couldn't walk correctly because of 4 pounds of matted fur and overgrown toenails, is getting a forever home, the Suffolk County SPCA said Thursday.
Found earlier in July in an abandoned house in Lindenhurst, the pooch that looked more like a mop than a dog when he was first discovered will join his new family at a news conference Friday morning at the Town of Babylon Animal Shelter. That's where it took workers more than three hours to shave the stinky, black fur from the dog, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said.
"It's a big day for Ziggy," who'll be going home with a couple in western Suffolk who prefer not to be identified, but who have considerable experience with dogs with special needs, said Chris Elton, director of the Babylon Animal Shelter.
"I am very, very happy that this dog is going to get the home he deserves after the torment he's been suffering for many years," said Roy Gross, chief of the Suffolk SPCA. Gross also said that the next good news he hopes to deliver is that the person responsible for Ziggy's neglect has been brought to justice.
For the past two weeks, Ziggy has been at the New York Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Farmingdale, which provided pro bono care, including extensive physical therapy.
With treatment that included walking on an underwater treadmill, Ziggy is "doing much better now," though "there's still a skip to his back step," said Patrick Maguire, the veterinarian who conducted the initial evaluation on the dog. Now neutered and microchipped, the dog is "very friendly," though occasionally a bit apprehensive, Maguire said.
Back when Ziggy was discovered, "the matting was pulling so much on its legs, it couldn't walk," Gross said. "It was pathetic."
A video shows the dog trying to walk, a mix of paddling on his front legs and some hopping on his back legs.
Elton said it was the worst case of matting on a dog that he has ever seen, an SPCA release said.
A $2,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for abandoning and neglecting Ziggy. According to Gross, a person said he found the dog July 17 at a house on South Seventh Street that the person knew was abandoned.
Neighbors told investigators that the prior tenants had moved out almost a year ago, but investigators don't believe the dog was there that long, Gross said.
It's unclear how long the dog was in the house, but neighbors said they never saw this dog with the prior tenants, Gross said. "Somebody may have dumped the dog in there," he said.
The SPCA is offering $1,000 and another $1,000 is being offered by the New York State Humane Association. Anyone with information may call the SPCA at 631-382-7722. All calls are confidential.