Chico's Abuser Pleads Guilty: Dog Restored To Health

By Scott Sarvay
By Jeff Neumeyer

August 17, 2011 Updated Aug 17, 2011 at 6:32 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - Allen County warrants officers stumbled upon a shivering, emaciated dog wrapped up in a blanket and left to die during a property search in February.

The man responsible for the high profile animal abuse case pleaded guilty Wednesday.

Antonio Morales is looking at a one year executed sentence when a judge reviews the agreement September 26th.

Morales admitted guilt to animal cruelty, neglect of a dependent, and to possession of marijuana.

Warrants officers came in search of a suspect at a home on Ralph Avenue this past winter, but instead found drugs, a gun and a Chihuahua named "Chico", who was in terrible shape.

Officer Brock Williams, who served the warrant, adopted the dog and nursed it back to good health.

Williams would support enhanced punishments for people who severely abuse and neglect pets.

Officer Brock Williams/Chico's Owner: " They're dependent upon their caretakers to provide that, and I think if they fail in doing that, and they don't seek help where it's available, my opinion is something should be pretty stiff as far as penalties go."

The case tugged at the hearts of many animal lovers in the community.

Lots of letters and financial donations poured into the city animal control shelter after news stories were aired.

The money helped the shelter provide care to the dog in those critical early days of recuperation.

One of the other defendants in the case pleaded guilty last week.

If an agreement is accepted, Taylor Talley will get a one-year suspended sentence, after it was learned her two-year old daughter was sleeping in a room not far from where a loaded firearm was kept.

That child didn't appear to be harmed, but was turned over to a foster family.

Antonio Morales, the father, will be permitted supervised visitation at the headquarters of Stop Child Abuse and Neglect, or SCAN.

The agreement lays out that the foster parents and staff must be in the room at all times.

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