SOUTH PLAINFIELD — A senior dog left to fend for himself in a Middlesex County apartment has a brighter future thanks to a borough police officer and his family.

Anthony Louise said he was one of the police officers who did a wellness check June 1 on a man who lived on Front Street. Louise said he saw a dog's nose sniffing at the door, but after checking with neighbors and contacting the resident's ex-girlfriend, he and his partner confirmed the man was safe but was not coming back.

Later that day, the ex-girlfriend returned and with the help of the landlord, gained access to the squalor of the abandoned residence. Louise said the woman took a cat that had been left behind while Sarge, a red-nose pit bull that's between 15 and 17 years old, was taken to the Plainfield Humane Society.

Louise said the dog was "skin and bones" at the time, he couldn't walk on his own, was missing patches of hair and skin, and weighed no more than 30 pounds.

Louise said he and his wife decided they wanted the senior dog to join their family, along with their nearly 5-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son, and their two dogs and two cats, all rescues.

The dog has gotten along seamlessly in his new environment, both with the other animals and people. Louise said given all he's been through, it's amazing the dog still can trust people.

With multiple daily feedings involving special food and supplements, Louise said Sarge has gained another 25 pounds and is about halfway to what's considered a healthy weight for his build, 70 to 80 pounds.

For now, the Louise family is fostering Sarge as animal cruelty charges are pursued against the dog's previous owner.

Once the legal side is resolved, Louise said, the pup can be officially adopted into his new, improved "forever" home.

As his family moves forward into a new chapter, so is Louise's career, as his passion for pursuing animal complaints made him a natural fit to become one of two new humane law enforcement officers (HLEO) for the borough.

Louise said he and a detective from South Plainfield's force both will earn their certification in September.

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