When the news first broke that police had found a dog dead in a Forked River home, Elaine Buzzeo was upset.
That upset quickly turned to anger, however, as the details became public: Ruger, a mixed breed dog, had been found dead in a crate and had apparently been dead for nearly a month. A 21-year-old Lacey woman, Megan Otte, had been arrested on charges she abandoned the dog and left it to die when she moved out of the home on Pensacola Road.
Otte remains in the Ocean County Jail, Toms River, on charges of abandonment and animal cruelty, unable to post the $7,500 bail. The case is being investigated by the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, which will have the choice to prosecute Otte or send the case back to the Lacey municipal court. It is unknown how long that process might take.
Concerned, however, that the situation will not receive the attention from the courts that she feels it should, Buzzeo has been trying to reach out to everyone connected with the case.
And now she has started a Facebook page to enlist others in the effort.
"This really hits home," Buzzeo said by email last week. "Unfortunately, this is nothing new, but when it happens in your own town it really strikes a hard blow, knowing especially that there are so many here in Lacey that would have stepped up (to give the dog a home)."
Buzzeo, who said she has worked in animal rescue for 16 years, said the availability of Popcorn Park Zoo, which also is an Associated Humane Societies animal shelter in Lacey, made it even more sad.
She said she has been emailing the prosecutor's office and will be starting an online petition to push for the maximum penalty, if Otte is convicted of the charges.
"I'd like to see us get even half of what Patrick's story got," she said, referring to a pitbull in Newark that was found starving and chained to a fence. The Facebook page started for Patrick, Prayers for Patrick, has more than 8,000 likes.
"I believe Ruger's story is not different than the Kisha Curtis case," she said, referring to the woman accused of leaving Patrick chained to the fence. "The only difference is that Patrick is alive and in a good home now."