Indi is looking better every day, according to a vet at the Dighton-Rehoboth Animal Hospital.

A critically neglected male poodle-terrier mix, Indi was discovered Monday in a box outside the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Riverside, RI.

SPCA president Dr. E.J. Finocchio said Indi is short for Independence Day, the day he was “dumped” at the SPCA front door.

“The dog has a multitude of compounded issues,” Finocchio said.

The issues he cited were dire malnutrition, heartworm, Lyme Disease, wounds and sores on three out of four paws, immobility, dental issues and a severe ear infection.

Finocchio also said Indi weighed in at 12 pounds, less than half of the breed’s average weight of 30 pounds.

After realizing his critical condition, Indi was brought by the SPCA to the Bay State Veterinarian Emergency Services in Swansea and then transferred to the Dighton-Rehoboth Animal Hospital in North Dighton.

Indi’s Independence Day

Finocchio said Elaine Puhacz, a resident of Rumford, was visiting the closed SPCA office on Monday to view their hours of operation when she noticed an emaciated Indi in a box in front of the building.

“This case is a prime example of how you can help,” Finocchio said. “You can’t imagine how many eyes and ears are out there and report these things.”

After the SPCA released a statement asking for information on Indi’s owner, Finocchio said a Rehoboth resident, the neighbor of Indi’s owner, stepped forward to help with the case.

After being summonsed, Carlos Alvarez, 46, of Providence St., Rehoboth, turned himself in to East Providence police and was formally charged with abandonment and cruelty to animals. He will be arraigned in Providence District Court on August 9.

Alvarez could also face additional animal cruelty charges in Massachusetts.
Finocchio said he met with Alvarez face-to-face on Wednesday morning, and said he seemed remorseful.

“He became tearful and shaken, and said a multitude of people were involved in the deterioration of the dog’s health,” Finocchio said. “He also said a family member or friend dumped the dog on Monday, unbeknownst to him … But he decided he was going to ‘be a man’ and take full responsibility for it.”

He continued, “But would you be remorseful with your back against the wall?” he asked. “Most people would be. Remorse, in no way, shape or form, exonerates a person from committing a crime.”

Finocchio said Alvarez cited “financial difficulties and emotional attachment” for not getting Indi the necessary help.

Odds improving conservatively

Indi has been under the care of veterinarians at the Dighton-Rehoboth Animal Hospital for several days.

“We really appreciate everything the Dighton-Rehoboth Animal Hospital is doing for us,” Finocchio said.

A veterinarian from the hospital, who asked not to be named, said on Friday morning that Indi has been making daily progress.

“We’ve been working very hard,” the Dighton-Rehoboth vet said. “Before, we would feed him and he would vomit. Now he’s holding down food.”

The vet said he couldn’t comment for sure on Indi’s prognosis, but “everyday he looks better.”

“I’ve got a feeling the dog will do fine, once he’s out of here and back to the SPCA for physical therapy,” he said.

The vet said the Dighton-Rehoboth Animal Hospital will first tackle Indi’s anemia and starvation, in order to build up his strength for SPCA physical therapy.

“There will be a lot of work later on,” he said.

Earlier in the week, Finocchio said Indi had a 50/50 chance of survival, but now he conservatively estimates a 60/40 chance.

“And we’re not taking into consideration the heartworm treatment, which can be fatal,” he said.

After Indi has gained some strength, Finocchio said he will return to the SPCA for “some TLC” and will head back to the Dighton-Rehoboth Animal Hospital for heartworm treatment.

Then, Indi will return to the SPCA for evaluation on whether he can be adopted, which Finocchio deemed their “ultimate goal.”

Despite his conservative survival estimations, Finocchio said the SPCA has saved more than 80 percent of animals in a similar condition as Indi.

Best ways to help

Although he acknowledged an outpouring of financial support for Indi’s case, Finocchio said the most significant way people can help is by serving as a “sentinel” for neglected and abused animals.

“The best way to help is to get involved and intervene,” Finocchio said. “People have to get involved.”

Finocchio said seven or eight animals have been “dumped” at the Rhode Island SPCA this year, and all owners were tracked down.

“Any one of these crimes can be solved,” he said. “You can run, but you can’t hide from the eyes and ears of the sentinels out there.”

Finocchio said people help best by serving as a SPCA partner in tracking down animal abusers.

“There will always be idiots like the eight people who dumped their animals at our door with no note or explanation,” he said. “But people can intervene and save the animals before that happens. Before they’re nearly dead.”

Finocchio said if Alvarez had reached out to the SPCA or a local veterinarian, the situation may not have gone as far as police charges and social reprobation.

The Rhode Island SPCA, for example, offers medical attention for pets of impoverished, disabled and elderly individuals through the Marvin Fund.

“There probably wouldn’t have been a story if he just came to us, explained his circumstances and apologized for letting it go too long,” he said. “But he didn’t, so he will answer for this.”

Contact Casey Nilsson at