Retired police dog rescued from neglectful handler

Officer Francisco Ibarra and Ingo used to patrol the streets, keeping the town of Watsonville, CA, safe.

The emaciated Ingo was starving and dehydrated; the dog ate grass and dirt for nourishment.

But now, it seems that Ingo was the one in need of protection.

In mid-February, an anonymous tip led the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) for Monterey County to the Salinas home of former officer Ibarra, and no one was prepared for what they found: a severely emaciated German Shepherd in an obvious state of neglect, tied up in Ibarra’s backyard. With no food in sight, the dog ate grass, dirt, and sand for nourishment.

In retirement, Ingo had become an unrecognizable shell of the once robust crime-fighting canine he once was.

Weighing a startlingly meager 55 pounds – more than 25 pounds shy of what a healthy male German Shepherd should weigh – Ingo was in bad shape. His ribs and hipbones stuck out from beneath his skin so badly that the SPCA evaluated him at a “1” on their 5-point canine body condition scale, the lowest possible score.

The SPCA rescuers left a notice for Ibarra to respond within 24 hours, a notice that went ignored. Officers confiscated Ingo February 17, and the dog has since been under the care of the SPCA.

“He is slowly recovering and gaining weight on a specialized diet on a prescribed feeding schedule,” said the SPCA’s Beth Brookhouser in a statement for the Santa Cruz Sentinel. In fact, Ingo has reportedly put on 15 pounds.

A month after his rescue, Ingo is starting to look and feel like himself again, finally getting the love and attention he so desperately needed from his former partner.

SPCA workers look forward to placing Ingo into a happy forever home soon.

As of last week, Ibarra has been charged with two misdemeanor counts of failure to take care of an animal. If convicted, Ibarra could face up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. He was dismissed from the police force in 2010 for undisclosed reasons.