JEFFERSON COUNTY • A small dog that was found by a sheriff's deputy bound with tape in a rural Jefferson County ditch this week was reunited with his owner on Friday afternoon.
The dog, dubbed “Jimmy” by workers at the animal hospital that was treating him, is actually named Flick, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office reported Friday.
The black-and-brown dachshund was returned to his owner, Kaitlynn Kofron, at Ivan Animal Hospital. The sheriff's office posted video of the reunion.
Kofron, who lives near the man charged with abusing Flick, gave deputies an account of the incident that matched their investigation and she brought in Flick's medical records dating as far back as 2009.
A deputy found the dog Saturday with his face covered in tape and his legs bound. The animal was cold, malnourished and possibly suffering from a concussion, according to the sheriff's office.
On Thursday, Paul Garcia, 39, of Barnhart was charged with felony animal abuse and armed criminal action. Authorities say Garcia wrapped electrical and duct tape around the dog’s mouth and legs before dumping it. Garcia was in custody Thursday with bail set at $50,000.
The key to making the arrest came when investigators found fingerprints left on the electrical tape and Garcia came up as a match in a database, said Grant Bissell, a spokesman with the sheriff's office. A motive wasn't clear.
On Friday, several people who watched the video commented that the dog did not seem to react positively to seeing his owner.
That's because the video was taken about two minutes after Flick and Kofron were reunited, Bissell said. And more than a dozen people were out of frame in the video watching the reunion, making Flick nervous, he said.
"What you don't see in the video is that there was a big crowd of strangers staring at him, so I think that weirded him out a bit," he said.
Bissell said deputies and employees of the animal hospital had investigated to ensure that Kofron was indeed Fick's owner.
Ivan Animal Hospital said in a post to Facebook that when Kofron came to see Flick, she told veterinarians that the dog had broken his leg in the past, which the hospital verified by taking X-rays.
"Just part of the reunion was caught on camera, the real one was this morning when she came to verify it was him and saw him, but nobody got to see that except us and the detectives present," the hospital said. "When she sat down on the ground he walked right up to her and had all the tail wags. Then he plopped down right in front of her and started whining because he was so excited."