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Animal lovers launched the viral campaign #IAmCaitlyn to help bring justice for an abused dog.
This article contains graphic and disturbing content.
Meet the second-most famous Caitlyn on the Internet: a 15-month-old chocolate Staffordshire terrier mix from North Charleston, South Carolina.
Last week, the brave dog was found with her muzzle taped shut with electrical tape. Her tongue was stuck between her teeth, and she was unable to move her mouth.
The dog, barely out of puppyhood, had not been able to eat or drink for about two days due to the tightly wound tape around her muzzle. According to WCIV Charleston, Caitlyn was sold for $10 and found with a taped muzzle on May 27. Her face was bound so tightly that she couldn’t put her tongue back in her mouth, and veterinarians at an emergency vet hospital had to remove parts of her mouth and tongue due to spreading necrosis.
Doctors say the dog’s muzzle swelled to three times its original size due to the compression, and still hasn’t gone down. Caitlyn is currently receiving laser treatments to address the swelling and damage.
On Monday night, police arrested William Dodson, 41, who stands accused of animal abuse. He faces a $5,000 fine and up to five years in prison if convicted. In a Tuesday hearing, a judge ordered police to take Dodson’s other dog away and slapped Dodson with a $50,000 bond.
Dodson was arrested after the Humane Society of the United States offered a $5,000 reward to bring Caitlyn’s abuser forward, stating on its website the importance of involving law enforcement in animal abuse cases.
“Caitlyn is a friendly dog who may have suffered for days and is now fighting for her life,” said South Carolina Humane Society director Kimberly Kelly in the statement. “Anyone capable of such a heartless act of cruelty should be held accountable, and we hope this reward will encourage anyone with information to come forward.”
The dog’s previous owners told WCIV they had sold the dog for $10 because she was causing damage to their home as a puppy and they feared eviction. It was a mistake they would come to regret. The former owner, who was not identified in the story, said that the dog escaped from the new owner and came back to his house with its muzzle taped shut. They called police and gave a description of the man they had sold the dog to.
“Don’t let me find you,” Caitlyn’s previous owner told WCIV when asked about the animal abuser. “That’s all I can say, don’t let me find you because that’s part of my family you just did some foul things to.”
But the search for the person who tortured the poor pup was intensified on social media, where tweets with the hashtags #IAmCaitlyn, #Justice4Caitlyn, and #SaveCaitlyn may have crossed wires with searches for Caitlyn Jenner, Monday’s number one trending topic on Twitter.
As soon as Dodson’s arrest was announced, some began calling for revenge.
While Dodson may not be able to show his face in public for a while, Caitlyn the dog appears to be recovering well. In this photo posted to Twitter by Charleston Animal Society spokeswoman Kat Hyman, Caitlyn—who was just a few days ago in danger of losing her tongue—is giving out big, wet, sloppy puppy kisses.
Photo by Charleston Animal Society
Mary Emily O'Hara is an LGBTQ reporter. Her work has appeared in Rolling Stone, NBC Out, Daily Dot, Broadly, Vice, the Daily Beast, the Advocate, Huffington Post, DNAinfo, Al Jazeera, and Portland's Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly Willamette Week, among other outlets.