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      Utica police searching for owners of neglected pit bulls

      One of the neglected pit bulls found in Utica / photo: UPD

      The Utica Police Department is investigating what it calls a "horrible incident" of animal neglect after finding two young pit bulls starving, and abandoned on a city street.

      Officers were called to the area of Jay and Pellettieri Avenues after people reported seeing an emaciated pit bull left outside in the heat. Officers found a black female pit bull who was very thin, malnourished, and showed signs of other abuse.

      After speaking with a concerned neighbor, officers found another young female pit bull in a nearby house. She was just as sick as the first dog.

      Now, they are being cared for at Burrstone Animal Hospital. The employees there have named the dogs Scarlet and Cassie. One is 21 lbs., the other is 23 lbs., which is only about half what they should weigh. Doctors say there is no sign that they were used in dog fighting.

      "I've seen some bad cases, but this is definitely one of the worst. Just emaciated," said Colleen George who works at Burrstone. "It's horrible, heartbreaking. I don't know how anybody could do that."

      Both dogs are believed to be 8 or 9 months old and from their interactions with each other they appear to be sisters. One had on a blue, red and black collar while the other had on a choke collar.

      Workers at the animal hospital say although the pit bulls have been eating small meals and socializing. They both appear to be improving, even wagging their tails while playing with employees at the animal hospital. "We're trying to socialize them, make them trustworthy of other people so they can be adoptable," said George. The dogs are expected to fully recover.

      Utica police say this case could turn criminal, right now they are investigating the area where the dogs were found and interviewing neighbors. If and when they find the owner, he or she could face felony charges. "Whenever you see an animal abused, it brings up the same feelings as when you're dealing with children or the elderly. There defenseless, and relying on us for their sustenance. It's just disturbing all the way around," said Utica Police Sgt. Steve Hauck. "It is difficult, we don't have a victim to talk to. So it takes a lot of interviews, a lot of canvassing but we are hopeful someone will come forward."

      If you have any information you are asked to call Utica Police at 223-3500 or 735-3301. There is also a $500 reward being offered for any information that leads to a conviction in this case.

      Let us know what you think of this story. What should the penalty be for this type of alleged neglect? Leave a comment below and share your opinion. Also, scroll through the pictures to see the progress the dogs are already making.