LEXINGTON, N.C. -- On March 2, Lexington police found a two to three-year-old German Shepherd locked in a laundry room at 258 W. Martin Luther King Junior Blvd., with no food or water, barely able to walk.
Police said the home was in foreclosure and they believe the previous resident, 20-year-old Yimene Nijeh Tysinger, abandoned the dog when he moved out. Police say Tysinger was not formally renting the home and did not own it, but they believe he was staying there nonetheless.
Police are now looking for him and have a warrant out for felony animal abuse.
The German Shepherd, now named Heidi, is under the care of the animal rescue group Ginger's Fund. The nonprofit group takes care of abused animals found by animal control in Davidson County.
Since Ginger's Fund was founded in 2011, it has helped dozens of dogs every year. Heidi is number 201.
Co-founder Tina York said she started Ginger's Fund after realizing many animal shelters didn't have the space or the resources to care for all of the animals rescued by animal control.
"It's not a new problem," York said. "This is an ongoing problem. And it's in every area, every county."
In Greensboro, officials said there were 17 animal cruelty cases last year. In three of those cases, there were felony abuse charges.
In Alamance County, from Feb. 1, 2014 to Feb. 1, 2015, there were nine reports of animal cruelty, where four resulted in charges.
When Ginger's Fund first met Heidi, she weighed a mere 28 pounds. Veterinarian Greg Hedrick, with the Davidson Animal Hospital, is providing medical care to Heidi. He said that's just half of what she should have weighed at her age.
"It hurts everybody to see them come in like that," Dr. Hedrick said. "We know they're in a bad state, and they're hurting."
Dr. Hedrick said he and his staff are feeding Heidi six times a day. In just about a week of their care, she has already gained seven pounds.
York said that Ginger's Fund has already gotten many applications from people wanting to adopt Heidi.
"Lots of times whenever we have the purebred animals, we always have a long line of people wanting to adopt them," York said.
But she said, aside from Heidi, there are many other animals at Ginger's Fund who need loving homes.
York encouraged people to report animal abuse if they see it. She said, in her experience, she has noticed that homes where animal abuse is present may also have other types of abuse.
"It's a huge correlation. Oftentimes when they are rescuing these animals out of these homes, they're having to also rescue the children," she said. "And sometimes the wives."
York said she's glad that police have a warrant out to arrest Heidi's alleged abuser. If you have any information on the whereabouts of Yimene Nijeh Tysinger, contact the Lexington Police Department.
For more information on Ginger's Fund, visit friendsoftheshelterdcnc.com.