DELAVAN — Police have cited a suspect in the Thanksgiving Day abandonment of two dogs found malnourished in a Walmart parking lot.
Jeffrey Freund, 48, of Elkhorn, has been cited on suspicion of disorderly conduct and dogs running at-large — both non-criminal ordinance violations in Delavan Municipal Court.
Police also have recommended criminal charges of mistreatment of animals, failure to provide sufficient food, and intentionally abandoning animals. The Walworth County district attorney's office will decide whether to file charges.
Police said they identified Freund through a Facebook tip and that he admitted leaving dogs named "Dexter" and "Blackberry" in the parking lot outside the Delavan Walmart on Nov. 28.
“He was evasive at first," Police Chief James Hansen said, "but he eventually owned up to his responsibility."
The two dogs are recovering at the Lakeland Animal Shelter, where director Kristen Perry says both animals seem to be improving.
Both of the dachshund breed, they should have weighed 18 to 20 pounds each. But Perry said Dexter weighed 9 pounds and Blackberry weighed less than 5 pounds.
Perry said the malnourished dogs have been treated for other health problems, including pancreatitis. The current goal is to help the animals gain enough strength so they can have dental surgery.
Both dogs' teeth are decayed.
"Dexter's mouth is the worse that I've ever seen," Perry said. "It's just horrible."
Although their conditions are improving, Perry said the dogs probably will never make a full recovery from organ damage related to their malnourishment.
"Our goal is to give them a good of quality of life," she said.
Perry also said the dogs seem to interact well with people, despite their condition.
"There's no reason for them to trust anybody," she said. "The person who was supposed to take care of them let them down."
The shelter has established a Go Fund Me link on its Facebook page to seek donations to care for the dogs. About $8,500 has been raised so far, with a goal of $10,000.