Emaciated Dog: Follow Chico's Progress and Formal Charges Filed

By Nicole Hahn
By Jeff Neumeyer
By Scott Sarvay
By John W. Davis

February 21, 2011 Updated Feb 24, 2011 at 2:00 PM EDT

Fort Wayne, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) - "Chico" is now eating and officials with Animal Care and Control are able to vaccinate him and treat him for parasites. He is by no means out of the woods yet, but he is slowly improving.

To track “Chico’s” progress, click here: Track Chico

The dog does not have much energy and still requires long hours of rest and 24/7 monitoring.

Also today, 18-year-old Antonio Morales was formally charged in the case.

He is charged with a D Felony Possession of Marijuana/Hash Oil/Hashish, a D Felony Neglect of a Dependent, an A Misdemeanor Cruelty to an Animal and an A Misdemeanor Possession of Paraphernalia.

Officers found the dog and a 2-year-old girl when they went to look for a suspect in a Fort Wayne home.

Calls have poured into the clinic about Chico, but he's not up for adoption.

One of the officers who found him has first dibs, once he's healthy.

If not for the search warrant, the dog probably was doomed.

Allen County warrants officers went to 1209 Ralph Avenue on Thursday, February 17, 2011 looking for a Juan Salas.

They didn't find him, but they found drugs, cash, a gun, and an emaciated dog put through a very bad ordeal.

Santino Morales, his brother Antonio Morales, and Taylor Talley are charged with felony crimes, after cocaine, pot, paraphernalia, a gun and a two-year old girl were discovered in the search.

Police also unrolled a towel in a garage, revealing what one officer described as “…A very sickening and stomach turning sight.”

Police say the dog was skin and bones, collapsed when it tried to stand, and could barely move its tongue to drink.

It was taken to the animal control shelter, suffering from multiple problems.

Belinda Lewis/Animal Control Shelter: " Normal temperature for a dog is 101 degrees. Our thermometers go down to 95 degrees and his temperature did not even register on a thermometer. He was in advanced hypothermia, advanced dehydration, along with malnutrition."

City animal control staff worked 129 animal neglect and cruelty cases in 2010.

Antonio Morales is expected to face misdemeanor animal cruelty charges in this case.

There’s no evidence the two-year old girl in the home suffered any harm.

A grandmother came to take custody of the girl.

But Antonio Morales and Taylor Talley, the parents, both face felony child neglect charges, because the girl was sleeping in the same room where drugs and the loaded handgun were found.

Here's more on the circumstances surrounding the home search.

19-year-old Santino Morales answered the door and told the officer that Juan Salas, his brother and who police were looking for, was not there. Officers asked if they could come in and talk about Salas with Morales and his brother, 18-year-old Antonio Morales, who was also in the apartment. Santino Morales stepped aside to allow the officer in. At that time, Antonio Morales walked out with the 2-year-old girl…later identified as his daughter.

Officers then asked for permission to search the apartment for Juan Salas. Reports indicate both Santino and Antonio Morales gave verbal permission.

A search of the apartment turned up marijuana and a gun that turned out to be stolen. Officers also discovered more than $1,200.00. Officers then contacted Vice and Narcotics, who made the scene and requested a search warrant…which was granted. They also contacted the Department of Child Services about the 2-year-old girl.

Following a more thorough search of the apartment, officers headed to the darkened garage, where the Chihuahua was found. The officer helped the Chihuahua up on its feet and a black, thick, tar-like fluid came out of the dog’s behind…and then the dog collapsed and was trying to get back up on its feet. The officer gave the dog some water, but ‘the little guy could hardly move its tongue to drink’. The officers put a clean, soft towel in the bottom of a large container and called Fort Wayne Animal Control.

In an interview later, Antonio Morales told the Animal Control officer that he got ‘Chico’ the Chihuahua from his grandmother a few months ago. He said he knew it was sick, but never took it to the vet.

Police also called in 18-year-old Taylor Talley for questioning. She is identified as the girlfriend of Antonio Morales and the mother of the 2-year-old in the apartment.

She was placed under arrest and charged with felony Child Neglect.

Antonio Morales is charged with Possession of Stolen Property, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Paraphernalia, Neglect of a Child and Cruelty to an Animal.

Santino Morales is charged with Possession of Marijuana and Possession of Paraphernalia.


Meanwhile, local authorities are not sure if animal cruelty cases are on the rise.

However, they know it's happening across Northeast Indiana.

Officials are urging community members to call and report, when you see signs of a neglected animal.

You're asked to call the Fort Wayne Animal Care & Control office at(260) 427-1244.

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