By Doug Zellmer
It didn’t take long for a once starved and neglected dog to lap up her new surroundings.
Maya, a nine-month-old pit bull/terrier mix formerly known as Diamond, left the Oshkosh Area Humane Society Friday afternoon with her new owner, Jessie Schultz, for a second chance on life.
The dog, which was nearly starved to death when it arrived at the animal shelter, is the survivor of a widely publicized case of criminal animal abuse by its former owners, Samantha Braatz and Bryan Hutcherson, who are also connected with the death of a pit bull mix named Snoop.
The nine-month old Maya quickly bonded with Schultz’s other dog, Olivia, a boxer/pit bull mix, after arriving at her new digs outside of Oshkosh.
When Maya arrived, the two dogs playfully frolicked in the front yard. They had met once before at the shelter and Schultz said the two dogs got along fine.
After a few minutes of yard play, Maya went inside the house and immediately started to scout out her new home and the “doggy” toys at her disposal.
The property is a true dog heaven.
The dogs have nine acres of land to roam and Maya also has a manmade lake on the property if she wants to go for a swim.
“Maya will get a good home,” said Schultz, who along with her boyfriend, Corey Gay, picked up Maya from the shelter about mid-day on Friday afternoon. “I’ve been following her story and I really wanted this dog. I’m a little overwhelmed right now. I’m full of joy and just really excited. I know we have what it takes to give her a good home.”
Schultz said she gave the dog a new name as a tribute to all that she had gone through.
“Maya means magical. She has lived through a lot and it’s something fun for her new life,” she said.
Schultz said her dog Olivia had been in a similar situation almost starved and skinny. She got the dog from the Oshkosh Area Humane Society about a year ago.
“I needed to give another animal (Maya) a great home,” Schultz said.
Maya has been through much hardship in her young life.
The dog was starved and skinny when rescued in April from the Oshkosh apartment Braatz and Hutcherson shared.
Police were led to their Bowen Street apartment on a tip from an informant after Snoop, the other pit bull puppy that had lived in the apartment was found dead on a city street a few blocks away. It had been starved to death.
Police found Diamond sitting in her own urine in an undersized cage in the apartment. She weighed just 19 pounds.
Hutcherson, who told police caring Snoop was too costly and stressful, has been charged with mistreatment of animals causing death and is due back in Winnebago County Circuit Court July 14. He faces three and a half years in prison if convicted.
For her part in the death of Snoop and the mistreatment of Diamond, Braatz has been charged with felony mistreatment of an animal causing death and misdemeanor mistreatment of an animal. She could serve up to four years and three months in prison, if convicted.
Joni Geiger, executive director of the Oshkosh Area Humane Society, said those at the shelter are thrilled Maya has a new home.
“We strive to make happy endings and we are so ecstatic she will have a second chance and have a great home,” Geiger said. “She will be treated with respect and dignity.”