Dog with mange, heartworms, parasites at center of legal mess

Lachrystal Ricke and her husband founded a dog rescue group called Reggie's Friends in March 2013.

“And since then, we’ve rescued 600 to 650 dogs,” said Ricke.

Ricke became aware on Tuesday of a dog, now named Gabe, through a video posted by the Houston & Harris County Animal Volunteers Facebook page.

“Very sick, his eyes were matted shut,” described Ricke. “He tried to wag his tail and that always kind of gets to me.”

Gabe had just arrived at the shelter as a stray.

By law, all shelters must keep dogs and cats for three days before putting them up for adoption or euthanizing them. That law is to give owners a chance to reclaim them.

But Harris County Animal Shelter, like most Houston-area pet shelters, will waive the three-day stray hold for rescue groups willing to pay veterinary bills for animals in need of extensive and costly medical care.

“If you take the dog directly to a vet,” said Ricke, which she did.

“He had open wounds, he had live parasites on his body,” added Ricke.

Gabe’s plight touched a lot of people on social media.

More than $2,000 has been donated for his veterinary care.

“It wasn’t just us rallying to save him,” said Ricke. “He had a whole country of people that were invested in his well- being.”

A woman, who claimed to be Gabe’s owner, contacted the shelter within the three-day hold period.

Shelter staff told Ricke she had to abide by the written agreement and return the dog.

Ricke doesn’t dispute signing the agreement.

“We signed it and we knowingly made this conscious decision that ethically and morally and medically, we didn’t feel that it was best for him to go back,” said Ricke.

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has been bombarded with e-mails from people asking him to let the rescue group keep Gabe. County Judge Emmett said Gabe can stay with the rescue group until he is healthy enough to be transported back to the shelter.

Emmett said that at that time, the possible owner can come in to see if Gabe is indeed her missing dog.

FOX 26 News will keep you updated on what ultimately happens to Gabe.