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People are rallying around an abandoned dog that was found last week malnourished and with his mouth wired shut in a wooded area on St. Paul’s East Side.

A fundraiser by Rescued Pets Are Wonderful (RPAW) in Blaine has brought in more than $17,000 to cover medical expenses for the pit bull called Riptide. And the Humane Society of the Unit­ed States on Tuesday offered a $5,000 re­ward in hopes of generating tips that might lead authorities to those who left the dog for dead.

“Riptide has a long way to go, but we know he has the support of so many,” Liz Gigler wrote on the volunteer animal rescue organization’s Face­book page. “Words are not able to explain what this guy went through.”

Acting on a tip, an animal control agent found the pup covered with maggots last Thursday in the area of E. 4th and Clarence streets.

The dog’s back leg was tied to a tree and a zip tie clamped his muzzle shut, preventing the dog from being able to bark or eat, said Suzanne Donovan, a spokeswoman with St. Paul’s Department of Safety and Inspections. Both the rope and zip tie had cut the dog to the bone, she said.

It wasn’t immediately known how long Riptide had been in the woods, but Donovan said she believes he may have been there for up to two weeks.

The dog was taken to RPAW, a volunteer organization that says it has rescued and found homes for almost 4,000 animals since 2004.

Riptide’s rear leg was amputated this week and his mouth will need “revision procedures,” Gigler said

“This guy endured days [and] weeks like this, “ Gigler wrote. “He survived and we intend to give him our all to get him back to health.”

Riptide is expected to make a full recovery, said Melissa Tedrowe with the Humane Society of the Unit­ed States.

During economic downturns and times of rising unemployment such as that brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Humane Society sees an in­crease in pets abandoned by owners who have lost their jobs, Tedrowe said.

But Riptide’s case goes far beyond somebody making a choice between buying groceries or providing for a dog.

“This was deliberate cruelty,” Tedrowe said. “This had a level of intentional maliciousness.”

St. Paul Animal Control, which is investigating the case, has re­spond­ed to 267 calls this year related to animal welfare situations. Most of the calls are for issues such as dogs being left in toasty cars or an owner tugging too hard on a leash. Cases that require serious investigation, such as Riptide’s, amount to fewer than 10 annually, Donovan said.

But she said it will be difficult to find those responsible for Riptide’s abusive treatment. The dog had no tags, chip or oth­er clues that might identify the owner. Agents have been canvassing the neighborhood where the dog was found, but it’s unknown if Riptide is from the area.

“He’s one luck­y guy,” Donovan said of the dog. “He was found, and found by some­bod­y who cared and knew who to call.”

People with information are asked to call St. Paul Animal Control at 651-266-1100.