AURORA – The man accused of animal cruelty – of abandoning his Rottweiler puppy in a cage in a garage without food or water – did not appear in Aurora branch court Thursday.
But Assistant Kane County State’s Attorney Jacob Dennis said if the man misses a new court date set for March 12, a warrant would be issued for his arrest.
Santos D. Chavez, 25, of the 400 block of Lincoln Avenue, Aurora, was charged Jan. 13 with animal cruelty, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500, if convicted.
The dog, formerly known as Hercules because of the name on his empty water bowl, is now named Wyatt, his new owner Jeri Boyd, said.
“He did not know his name,” Boyd said. "When I started calling him that (Hercules), he just looked at me. So I started calling different names and when I said ‘Wyatt,’ his head popped up.”
Wyatt was found Nov. 1 in the garage of a rental home in the 1000 block of Kilbery Lane, North Aurora, by a cleaning person, Heather Caminiti.
“It was between 20 and 40 degrees in the garage, and [the dog] was lying on the concrete floor,” Caminiti, owner of Caminiti Cleaning, had said then. “You could count every bone in its body, he was so skinny."
The tenant came and eventually agreed to let Caminiti take the dog to Chicagoland Dog Rescue, and eventually to Boyd for fostering and she decided to adopt him.
Boyd, of Schaumburg, said she has been involved in animal rescue for 25 years and has had 309 dogs fostered at her house.
“He was under 30 pounds for a five- to six-month old dog. You could literally see every rib, his shoulder blades,” Boyd said. “He had no muscle in his back legs from being left in that cage."
Caminiti visited Wyatt recently – and it was an emotional reunion, she said.
"He jumped on me and was whimpering," Caminiti said.
Wyatt, at eight months old, is now 60 pounds, Boyd said.
“He could use a few more pounds,” Boyd said. “I don’t know how much his growth is stunted from being malnourished.”
A November veterinarian report, released through a Freedom of Information Act request, found that the dog was underweight, malnourished and suffering from anemia and pancreatitis.
Boyd – who has a background working in vet specialty clinics – has been providing Wyatt with physical therapy to try to build up his rear leg muscles. She has him go up and down stairs, walk on pillows and a treadmill.
But she said his favorite is when she takes him and her other dogs to a stable in Woodstock where she keeps her rescue horses.
Wyatt runs in the indoor sand arena as the sand is good therapy for his legs, she said.
“He loves the horses,” Boyd said. “He’s a very good boy.”
Wyatt has ongoing issues from having been taken from his mother too soon, the malnourishment, recurrent urinary tract infections and lack of exercise and socialization, Boyd said.
“He knew nothing when he came here,” Boyd said. “We’re still working on potty training because all he had was to pee and poop in his kennel. He is probably as socially scarred as he was physically, because he had no interaction with people or animals.”
Wyatt will cower if a person suddenly raises a hand or a voice, she said.
“He is petrified of men with deeper voices,” Boyd said.
But for all Wyatt has been through, Boyd said Wyatt is smart, sociable and good-natured.
“I am going to take him for certification for becoming a therapy dog. With his temperament, he is perfect for going to visit kids in the hospital,” Boyd said. “For what he’s been through, he shouldn’t be this good of a dog.”