By Rick Pfeiffer
— TOWN OF WHEATFIELD -- He fought hard, but in the end, Jonah was just too weak and malnourished to hang on.
Late Friday afternoon, the SPCA of Niagara announced that the 8-week-old Labrador mix puppy lost the fight for his life late Wednesday evening at Central Park Animal Hospital.
Shelter Director Amy Lewis said the announcement of Jonah's death was made "with a heavy heart."
Jonah had been at the hospital since Tuesday, after his condition had worsened. He had been in critical condition since he was brought to the SPCA’s Lockport Road shelter early Sunday morning.
"Jonah was extremely emaciated and lacked the energy to lift his tiny head when Niagara Falls Police and an agent from the Niagara County SPCA found him," Lewis said. "He was brought to the SPCA for immediate medical treatment. By early Tuesday morning, it was evident that his condition had worsened."
At the animal hospital, Jonah was fed through a feeding tube and given supplements to help gain his energy back. But it wasn't enough to save him.
"Jonah's tiny body had begun to shut down even before (we) found him Sunday morning," Lewis said. "Unfortunately, that damage could not be reversed."
Lewis said her organization's efforts will now be re-doubled to track down the person who abandoned Jonah.
"We now turn our energies to finding Jonah's owner," Lewis said, "and making sure he is held responsible for the neglect and abandonment of Jonah, Nellie and Dorian," as (the dogs) have been named by shelter employees.
Animal cruelty investigators with the SPCA say a warrant for the owner's arrest could be issued as soon as Monday. Those investigators tell the Gazette they have identified a suspect in the case and will charge him with three counts of animal cruelty.
SPCA officials first went to the 12th Street home on Friday after receiving a tip call that there were dogs in the home that appeared to have been abandoned. An SPCA animal control officer was unable to get into the home at that time.
Early Sunday morning, someone called Falls police with a similar complaint and officers who responded were able to get into the house and found the three malnourished dogs. All of the dogs, including Jonah, were described as emaciated.
Conditions inside the home were described as deplorable.
Lewis said neighbors told investigators that the owner of the dogs appeared to have abandoned them.
“The neighbors said they had seen the owner come and go, but it was apparent he wasn’t taking care of (the dogs).” she said.
The dogs were described as Labrador-rottweiler mixes.
Lewis said the male was in the best shape of the three. Jonah, Lewis said, would probably not have survived the night had he not been found and taken for treatment on Sunday.
At the time he was found, Jonah weighed just 3 pounds. He should have weighed between 9 and 12 pounds, Lewis said.