Bailey and Blue are more than in need of good homes – they deserve one after experiencing near-starvation at the hands of their former owner.

Staff members at the city of Waxahachie’s animal control shelter shake their heads when they recall details of the animal abuse case that came to light in April 2008.

Alerted to the situation, officer Terri Muniz located the two dogs – since named Bailey and Blue – in a backyard off of Grove Creek.

“They were in horrible shape. They were very undernourished,” she said of the two canines. “They had no food, no visible water, no shelter.”

Photos taken after the dogs were removed from the situation aptly illustrate Muniz’s description – the two canines’ eyes sunken into their heads, skin drawn tight over their bodies, their ribs and hip bones clearly showing through their unhealthy-looking fur.

The animal control department contacted the police department, with a warrant subsequently obtained and the dogs taken into the city’s care and custody.

The criminal case just recently resolved in December, with the owner receiving a one-year probated sentence on a class A misdemeanor charge of animal cruelty. As part of the adjudication, the owner was ordered to pay vet bills and court costs and will have to perform community service.

The irony? The owner had an inside dog that by all accounts was well taken care of – and investigating officers found plenty of food inside the house, including canned food for the smaller, inside dog and unopened bags of dry food the owners said were for the two dogs outside.

That food, however, hadn’t made it outside to Bailey and Blue, despite the owner’s claims the dogs were being fed.

Because there was no cruelty issue relating to the inside dog, the owner has been allowed to keep it. During the probationary period, however, the court has ordered that the owner cannot acquire any additional dogs.

Since being taken in by the city, the two dogs have tugged at the animal control department staff’s heartstrings.

Muniz had immediately started feeding them in the background as they waited for the warrant and the officers found them friendly – it could be said even grateful – when they were finally able to remove them from their horrific situation.

“They were ready to go. They were ready to get out of that back yard,” animal control officer Warren Howell said.

Once in the city’s custody, the dogs had ample access to the food, water and shelter they’d been denied and Bailey and Blue began to blossom under a nutritional regimen that included several-times-a-day feedings, reaching a good weight in about eight weeks. They now weight about 85 pounds each.

With the care and handling, the two also have thrived with the socialization, bonding quickly with their human caretakers. With the court case resolved, they’re available for adoption.

“They’re very accepting and loving,” Howell said, noting that both dogs are old enough also to begin any training desired by an owner. “If someone’s looking to get right in and get quick results, they’re ready.”

The two dogs have been around the officers’ own children and grandchildren and have been housed and turned out with other dogs. They don’t mess in their kennels but go in and out.

Because of their past history of being starved when they were confined with each other, the two will not be adopted out together to avoid a food issue arising between the two.

“There are feelings there; there are memories that don’t go away,” Muniz said.

The exuberant Blue would do best in a one-dog home or with another dog accepting of his lead, while the quieter Bailey should be fine with any situation. The animal control officers would like to see each with access to a yard and room to play, noting that Bailey probably would enjoy being primarily a house dog.

The two canines enjoy their treats and being with humans. Blue’s more outgoing from the start, but Bailey warms up quickly once he knows someone.

“Bailey loves the extra loving,” animal control officer Cindi Walters said. “And Blue will just lean into you.”

From the onset of the animal control officers’ interaction with the dogs, neither Bailey nor Blue has ever indicated any aggression. They’ve proved their potential to be good companions, Walters said.

“Come out and spend some time with them. We want to find them good homes,” she said.

“With what they’ve been through and as long as they’ve been here, day in and day out, they’ve had a really good attitude,” Howell said.

The officers are working to find the dogs each a good home and are hopeful good placements will be found for each.

“If a dog shows it has the potential to be a loving, good companion, we’re going to try and find it a home,” Howell said. “There’s something special about these two.”

The two dogs – both are from 3 to 4 years old – are current on their vaccinations but have tested positive for heartworm. No treatments have been started as the city doesn’t have any money budgeted for that care.

Walters said she hopes that, even if an owner isn’t found in the near future, that some generous donor will provide funding to address the health issue with each dog.

She also noted the shelter has another animal cruelty case where a canine is now available for adoption.

Collette is a white German shepherd that was chained to a tree and left behind by its owners when they moved.

“She’s a great character,” Howell said, noting that

Collette is about 2 years old and current on her shots, but has tested positive for heartworms. Again, donations are being sought to start her on the treatment if an owner isn’t available soon.

“We do care about the animals, we really do,” Walters said.

“There’s something special about all of these dogs,” Howell said.

Visitation hours at the shelter are from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and from 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday. The shelter has from 20 to 40 canines at a time and from seven to a dozen or so cats.

Those wanting to see the dogs and cats available for adoption should call ahead to ensure an officer is at the shelter and not out on call. The shelter is located off of Lions Park Road behind the wastewater treatment facility. The telephone number is 972-937-1802.

E-mail JoAnn at joann@wninews.com