Kelly Benzel first saw Rocco, a white Pit Bull mix, for sale on Facebook. He looked sweet but sad and uncared for, so she decided to buy him from his owners and bring him home to her family in time for Christmas.
But Kelly didn’t realize how uncared for he really was until she picked him up. On her way home, Benzel noticed a putrid smell coming from the dog. Rocco was wearing a black harness which was hiding an infected gash, six inches long and 1.5 inches deep on his neck.
That night, she immediately drove Rocco to a veterinarian who made sure Rocco got pain medications and antibiotics.
She also made a call to the Fond du Lac police department, despite the promises from the dog’s seller, Amanda Muellenbach, that the previous owners would pay for the veterinary bills if she didn’t call the police.
An investigation was launched and Rocco’s previous owners, Amy Shaw, 42, and Daniel Eisenach, 51 told officers they were “unaware of the dogs injury”. They also haven’t removed the harness from Rocco “for the several months they owned him because they could not catch him in the backyard.”
All three were charged Shaw and Eisenach with with mistreatment of animals/causing death, and Eisenach with acting as a party to the crime.
The veterinarian who took care of Rocco at the Fox Valley Animal Referral Center told police the owner of the dog must have placed the harness on Rocco when he was young and as Rocco grew, the harness became embedded in his neck.
Nearly a year after his rescue, Rocco’s three abusers were sentenced in court. Muellenbach received a sentence of two years probation and two days in jail. She will not be permitted to own any animals, according to court documents.
Shaw and Eisenach both received a sentence of two years probation, and neither can own or care for pets while serving probation.
When in court for sentencing, district attorney Eric Toney said that “Kelly actually stood up and thanked Amanda for making the Facebook post about Rocco, because it put him in her life and out of that situation. I think that is really powerful.”
Kelly doesn’t think Rocco’s former owners received enough punishment for what they did, but she is grateful to have Rocco in her life. Rocco is now one very happy dog and knows nothing but love thanks to Kelly.