GRAPHIC IMAGE: Dog found with muzzle taped shut

(Photo provided by the Charleston Animal Society)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD/AP) — Authorities are investigating after a 15-month old dog was found with its muzzle taped shut with electrical tape.

Residents in the area had last seen Caitlyn, a chocolate staffie mix, three days before she turned up on the doorstep of a home with her muzzle taped.

Animal Society veterinarian Lucy Fuller said Caitlyn arrived at her office in critical condition. The tape was so tight around her muzzle that her tongue was caught between her teeth, stopping blood flow to her tongue.

“Caitlyn is in a lot of pain, her condition is critical, and her prognosis is guarded,” said Fuller. “A large part of her tongue may need to be removed surgically if the tissue dies from the lack of blood flow. She may be severely disfigured, or the large amount of dead tissue may cause life-threatening complications.”

Officials believe the tape may have been on Caitlyn anywhere from 36 to 48 hours.

She was placed in a hyperbaric chamber Friday to give her more oxygen, to help her wounds heal faster. However, she will have to have surgery in the upcoming days. “She’s had three full meals. She’s been able to [take in food] and swallow it,” Kelli Klein, the director of emergency care at Veterinary Specialty Care in Mount Pleasant said.

North Charleston Animal Control is investigating the case and looking for whoever is responsible.

Charleston Animal Society is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible, and Friday the Humane Society of the United States added another $5,000.

If convicted of ill treatment of an animal, the guilty party could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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