The in Upper Marlboro is on the road to recovery, thanks to local rescue workers who have taken him under their wing.
Mutts Matter Rescue, a nonprofit based in Kensington, took the pit bull after he was found on the corner of Westphalia and Ritchie Marlboro roads on July 17, according to Suzanne Lawter, a spokeswoman for the center. Rescuers dubbed the puppy "Hershey," for his sweet demeanor and his chocolate tone.
Founder Melanie Samet was contacted directly by the Prince George's County shelter to take in Hershey, Lawter said.
When the puppy was brought into Prince George's County Animal Services he was "severly underweight" according to Lawter.
The tendons on his paws are deformed, she said, a symptom of being kept in a small crate for long periods of time. He also had urine burns on his feet because she said he wasn't taken out often. He has been seen by an orthopedic surgeon, Lawter added, who believes that he is young enough that his injuries will correct with time, proper nutrition, and exercise.
Investigators are trying to identify the puppy's owner and The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to an arrest in the animal abuse case.
"A lot of people want [pit bulls] for bad reasons," Lawter said, stating they are used for dog fighting, illegal breeding in Prince George's County and as attack dogs.
Pit bulls have been illegal to own in Prince George's County since 1996. Owners with pit bulls prior to that in legislation were allowed to keep their pit bulls, but those dogs would now be 16 years or older and near the end of their life expectancy.
"It'll take him some time to emotionally recover," Lawter said. "He's fearful of men."
many owners have surrendered their dogs out of fear of losing their home.
Although it's not a law yet, Tami Santelli, the Maryland State Director for HSUS, said they've been hearing from people who have to choose between their homes and their dogs.
"We heard from two people specifically in the Baltimore area," Santelli said. "But the ruling is not in effect."
Maryland would be the only state to impose this ruling on landlords. Ohio had a similar ruling, but it was repealed earlier this year, she said.
Lawter has also heard about people surrending their dogs since the opinion was released.
"There's been some fear around it," she added.
Although pit bulls are illegal in Prince George's County, animal shelters in the county will take them in without repercussions on the owner. A shelter representative said they may ask for a license, but it's only to prove that the dog is from the county.
Although the shelter takes in abandoned and abused animals, the rescue centers are the ones that often pay for the animal's veternarian care, food and eventually find them a permanent home. Mutts Matter has a track record of rehabilitating dogs and has taken in many abuse cases, Lawter said.
She said Mutts Matter is paying for Hershey's vet bills and even bills from a specialist for his feet. He's getting walked and fed and eventually he'll be ready to be placed in a home. Currently he is in long-term foster care.
"We're going to be careful with [placing] him," Lawter said. "We want him to adjust and trust people again."
Mutts Matter also regularly recruits families to foster their rescues. Those who want to help may donate to the care of Hershey or other rescues on their website as well.
The Humane Society has created a specific page on their website to protect Maryland dogs. Renters can find resources to protect their rights in case they are being bullied to surrender their dogs.