Malnourished, tattooed dog found in December dies in ACS custody

Animal Care Services finalizing cruelty case against owner

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SAN ANTONIO – A severely malnourished Belgian Malinois found in mid-December during an animal cruelty investigation died only a few days after being taken into Animal Care Services’ custody, ACS officials confirmed Thursday.

ACS officials had asked the media for help in getting the word out about a mysterious tattoo on the dog's right ear that appeared to read: B-H-K-E-D-E. Then, hours after making the dog’s story public, KSAT 12 uncovered online records that show the dog -- named "Lady" by ACS -- was actually named "Elta," and was from a small town in Belgium.

She was taken into ACS custody on Dec. 19, but ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood confirmed in an email to Thursday that Elta died on Dec. 21 due to complications from her condition. 

Norwood said in cases of animal malnourishment, it can be difficult in the first weeks of rehabilitation.

"(Humans) can control the urge (to overeat), so what can happen when you have an animal that’s really malnourished, you have to put in place a feeding protocol," Norwood said. "If the animal does gorge itself, there’s a possibility of making its situation even worse because they won’t regulate themselves."

ACS staff later noticed Elta was lethargic, Norwood said, and took her to a partner clinic for treatment, where staff were unable to save the dog's life.

Online records show Elta was brought to the United States and received Schutzhund training.

Her former owner, who asked to remain anonymous because he had not had custody of the dog for several years, said she was highly trained in protection, tracking and obedience.

Her previous owner told that he had sold Elta in 2014 to a man in a San Antonio park, claiming to need a dog for protection. The previous owner said he sold Elta because he was no longer breeding or training her.

Her previous owner said he was not sure how Elta ended up in a south side backyard.

ACS said the case against her "apparent owner" is being finalized by animal cruelty investigators to go the district attorney.

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