CAMPBELL, Ohio (WKBN) — The Mahoning County Dog Warden’s 2021 report shows over 1,200 pets were taken to kennels, including over 180 that were surrendered by their owners.

For Carmelo the dog, his owner’s surrender of him ultimately saved his life.

Campbell police officer Jim Conroy heard Carmelo’s cries while he was on another call. The dog lived outside on a 2 foot chain for eight years.

“I heard incessant barking and typically when I hear barking like that I know there is something more to it,” Conroy said.

Conroy found Carmelo with no food and dirty water. After talking to his owner, they surrendered Carmelo.

Around Christmas, Conroy found a rescue to take the dog, but it fell through — so he made a Facebook post to see if anyone could help.

A pet lodge in Boardman responded.

“We were tagged in it and that night, literally, Carmelo was in our care,” said Pet Lodge co-owner Scott McCuskey.

Pet Lodge is currently taking care of 12 rescues that need homes. Scott and his wife Kim tell me taking care of animals is their passion.

“We’re huge animal lovers and we simply do it without thinking,” McCuskey said.

Conroy and the McCuskeys said animal cruelty needs to be taken more seriously. They said stricter regulations for breeders and puppy mills can help but talking to a dog owner who leaves their dog outside can make a difference.

“There’s always different things that as a police officer you can enforce. You can say, ‘Hey, if you don’t take care of this, I can charge you.’ What you want to do is educate them and hopefully they take care of the dog,” Conroy said.

“People and animals share the same emotions and things — so why should they be overlooked?” McCuskey said.

Carmelo is a different dog off of his chain. Officer Conroy said he is very playful and loving.

He’s now neutered and vaccinated since arriving at Pet Lodge, and is looking at a bright future.