SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – An adult dog, left for dead in a Front Street home for over a month, will now be able to live out his golden years with fellow canines, children, and a big backyard after being rescued by a member of the South Plainfield Police Department.
On the morning of June 1, South Plainfield Police were called to a Front Street home for a welfare check after concerned neighbors hadn’t seen or heard from the male resident – or his pets – in awhile. Upon arrival, officers found no signs of the man but noticed the nose of a dog sniffing around under the door. Investigating further, Officer Anthony Louise tracked down the man’s ex-girlfriend who confirmed he was safe.
Later that evening, however, police were called back to the home after the ex-girlfriend, having gained access to the apartment, found that both a senior-aged dog and a cat had been left in the home alone with no food or water.
“We went in there not knowing what to expect and it was filthy dirty, stunk, there was no food or water in his bowls, and there was no electricity. There was just stuff everywhere and it looked like the owner hadn’t been there in months. It was almost uninhabitable,” said Patrolman Frank DeBiase, who was among the South Plainfield officers to respond to the home that night.
“There was feces and urine all over the place, and both animals, appeared to be days away from dying,” said Louise, adding that the dog, an approximately 15-year-old Red Nose pitbull named Sarge by his previous owner, was missing clumps of hair and skin, had sores all over his body, and was unable to walk. “He had been eating the couch cushions to keep himself alive.”
While the ex-girlfriend took the cat, who was also malnourished, Sarge was picked up the Plainfield Humane Society and taken to the Rock Avenue shelter. That same night, responding officers sent Louise a photo of the dog and almost immediately he and his wife agreed that if Sarge pulled through he would join their family, which already included two young children, two other rescue dogs, and two cats.
“He had a long road ahead of him,” said Louise, noting that the dog should have weighed between 70 – and 80-pounds but came in under 30 pounds at the time he was rescued. “He was a walking skeleton and really in bad shape. Honestly, we were worried he wasn't going to make it.”
“The dog looked like he was on death’s back doorstep. Had it been another week or so he probably would have died,” added DeBiase.
Over the next six weeks, Louise and his wife would go to the animal shelter several times a week to visit with Sarge, check on his progress, and bring him special food and, on July 16 - the day after they closed on their new house - Sarge was finally able to come home. Although the dog was declared abandoned by the state, the Louise family cannot officially adopt Sarge until pending animal cruelty charges against the dog’s former owner are finalized.
“He is so old but he needed a home. Even though he probably only has a few years left, we can help him spend them here, with a backyard, other dogs, kids, and a family,” said Louise, adding that Sarge, who weighed in at 55-pounds during his July 29 vet visit, is not only excellent with his kids but also with the other dogs.
“It’s like they lived together their entire life; they eat together, they sleep together,” he said. “Before, the two of them were like Tweedledee and Tweedledum and now they are like the Three Musketeers.”
Louise is a lifelong resident of South Plainfield and member of the high school’s Class of 2009. He spent six years of active duty with the United States Coast Guard followed by two years in the reserves while also working as a federal police officer in New York. Louise joined the South Plainfield Police Department (SPPD) three years ago and, as a member of the force, has been actively pursing animal neglect and abuse complaints within the borough. Last month, he was among two South Plainfield Police officers selected to serve as Humane Law Enforcement Officers (HLEO) for the borough. Come September, Louise, along with Detective Thomas Rutter, will attend a four-day training course to earn their certification.
Louise said he is ‘extremely grateful’ to have the opportunity to attend the HLEO certification program and feels being appointed as a HLEO for South Plainfield will provide him the opportunity to combine his ‘passion for animal rescue’ with his ‘dedication to his job as a police officer.’
“It will provide me with the training and knowledge necessary to prosecute animal abusers to the fullest extent of the law,” Louise said, adding, “I'm very excited to start this next chapter in my career with the SPPD, and I look forward to putting my new training to good use. Sarge and all of the other animals out there in need of help deserve to have someone in their corner, and I'm more than willing to be that someone.”