Pit mix recovers after owner attempts to give dog away following failed pregnancy

ALTON, IL (KTVI) - A pregnant dog nearly died after being left in labor for days. An Alton woman, the dog's former owner, is wanted by police.

Stephanie Watson, 29, was knowingly breeding the dog, authorities said. When there were complications, she allegedly took the dog to animal control, claiming the dog wasn't hers, that she had just found it.

The dog, now named April, is between 2 and 3 years old. She’s now happy and healthy, a long way from where she was 8 weeks ago: near death after an estimated 3 to 5 days in labor without giving birth.

“The fetuses, they said, were so old and decomposing that their abdomens had ruptured inside of her,” said Kate Hibbett, who adopted April.

Hibbett was one of April’s caregivers at the vet clinic that saved her life.

“All the puppies were already dead. They were decomposing which caused the mama dog to have sepsis,” said Jackie Spiker, of Hope Animal Rescues.

Spiker said she happened to be at animal control with another dog, when Watson was dropping off April.
Hope Animal Rescues set up emergency vet care for April. Two surgeries and close to $7,000 later, she has bounced back.

“She did bounce back! She definitely did,” Hibbett said. “She had no life in her. Now, all she wants to do is play, get belly rubs, and eat food.”

“You cannot deny a suffering animal vet care. That’s failure to perform owners’ duties. There is a warrant for her arrest in the city of Alton. We hope to bring her to justice for April,” Spiker said.

The state’s attorney has charged Watson with failure to perform owner’s duties. It is a misdemeanor. but it certainly carries possible consequences and a lesson learned.

“We have damages,” Spiker said, referring to the massive vet bills. “We can ask for restitution. We can be reimbursed, whatever, $25 a month or whatever – forever. But at least she’s being held accountable. That’s what we want to see.”

“There’s no need (to think), ‘Oh this dog is so beautiful, let’s breed it and have puppies,’” Hibbett said. “That’s not necessary. You can go to a shelter and find one just like her. I don’t need to breed her to give you a dog that’s looks like her.”

Donations to Hope Animal Rescues covered the cost of April’s care.