Nikki Moustaki may have never met Nitro or his pet parents, but she’s starting a national campaign to ensure that everyone will know who the Rottweiler was. She’s joining the fight to never let what happened to him ever happen again.
On Oct. 23, 2008, the High Caliber K-9 training facility in Youngstown, Ohio, was raided by police. It was a well-respected facility where Nitro and 18 other dogs were supposed to be taken care of.
Instead, law enforcement found seven severely malnourished, deceased dogs and 12 emaciated and neglected dogs that were starving and crazed, surrounded by several empty water and food bowls.
Nitro, who once weighed 110 pounds, was one of the dogs found among the carcasses. He was so emaciated that he was unrecognizable. The police initially thought that he was a Doberman.
“Bones, carcasses, decay, it was horrible, it was enough to make you gag and throw up and cry,” Nikole Owen, CEO of Animal Charity, told vindy.com.
Moustaki first learned about Nitro’s case through a persistent Facebook friend who would constantly recommend that she read Nitro’s story. When she did, she was horrified.
“When I finally went to the sites to read about Nitro and watched a couple of the videos, I was moved to tears, I was disgusted, I felt nauseous about what had happened to this poor dog, it just really affected me,” Moustaki said. “Because when you live with dogs – I have three – I can’t imagine just not feeding them! The pain and suffering that those seven dogs had to go through, and who knows what else the guy did to them? We’ll never know.”
According to Moustaki’s blog, Nitro’s Law “would increase the penalty to a fifth-degree felony for egregious acts of animal cruelty by the animal’s caretaker, punishable by a year in jail per count. According to the Humane Society of the United States, Ohio ranks 45th in the nation for animal-cruelty laws.”
Steve Croley, the owner of High Caliber K-9, was originally charged with 19 counts of cruelty charges, but they were reduced to just four. Of the 15 charges that were dropped, tragically, Nitro was one of them.
Moustaki wrote, “Croley was sentenced to four months in jail and a small fine after only four misdemeanor charges were pursued. He did, however, have his American Kennel Club privileges revoked for 10 years, and the AKC fined him $2,000.”
According to nitrofoundation.com, Nitro’s Law (formerly known as House Bill 70 in Ohio) died in the Senate in December 2010, dealing another crushing blow to Nitro’s pet parents.
This is where Moustaki’s campaign comes in. According to her website, she has pledged to “eat dog food every day (one full meal a day), starting Feb. 1, 2011, and will post a video diary on YouTube every single day until Nitro’s Law gets reintroduced to the Ohio House of Representatives.”
“It just literally hit me like a light-bulb moment and it wasn’t something that I had to think too much about,” Moustaki said. “I thought to myself, ‘You know what? I should eat dog food!’ It’s because it was what Nitro was deprived of. It kind of makes sense and it’s just crazy enough to get enough attention where maybe everyone in the nation will know about this. How do you get attention? You have to do something offbeat.”
Moustaki is already on Day 9 of her dog food campaign, with new supporters in Arizona, Florida, New York, Ohio and Canada posting videos and taking the pledge. She is only eating and recommending that others eat Lucky Dog Cuisine because it is the only all-natural, human-grade dog food she is aware of that won’t make her sick.
i Love Dogs is also pledging our support by donating goodie bags filled with i Love Dogs Green Tea supplements, a leash, lanyard and pen, flying disc and reusable black bag to anyone who joins Moustaki’s campaign.
If you have already joined Moustaki’s campaign, please post a link to your video channel in the comments here or on our Facebook page, so other readers can check out your activities, and send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address to get your goodie bag.