A Newark woman was arrested and charged with torture Tuesday in the case of a starved pit bull puppy allegedly thrown 19 stories into a garbage chute and left for dead, New Jersey officials tell FoxNews.com.
Kisha Curtis, the 27-year-old owner, was charged Tuesday with "torture and torment of a living creature," said Matthew Stanton, a spokesman for the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The fourth-degree criminal charge was upgraded from previously filed animal cruelty charges, Stanton said. Curtis faces 18 months in jail or a $3,000 fine if convicted.
The 1-year-old pit bull, hailed by animal care workers as a "miracle dog," was discovered March 16 by maintenance workers inside a garbage chute at the Garden Spires apartment building -- a 550-unit complex in Newark notorious for drug trade and other crimes.
The dog was found so brutalized his bones protruded from his fur and he had no body temperature. Animal care workers with the Associated Humane Societies/Popcorn Park called it one of the worst cases of cruelty they've ever seen.
Newark Animal Control rushed the dog to the 24-hour Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, N.J., where he was given a blood transfusion, pumped with fluids and covered with heating blankets.
The dog was later named "Patrick" because he made it through the night and into St. Patrick's Day. Veterinarians said he would have died within 6 to 12 hours if he hadn't received medical attention.
Stanton said that Curtis, who is currently being held at the Passaic County jail on $10,000 bail, has denied throwing the dog into the chute. Curtis claims that the dog was tied up outside and that someone else took him, Stanton said.
Stanton added that the investigation into the crime is ongoing. He said the NJSPCA is working to determine whether anyone else was involved in the abuse and disposal of the animal.
Patrick, who is making a slow but steady recovery at the animal hospital, is receiving donations from as far away as Europe and has a Facebook page created in his honor.
Animal rights advocates, meanwhile, are proposing a measure called "Patrick's Law" that would put in place tougher animal abuse legislation.
"We are inspired by the story of Patrick, the sweet pit bull puppy from New Jersey," the grassroots group behind the cause wrote on its Facebook page. "It is our intention to form chapters in every state that will coordinate on a national basis, to move the media and encourage government officials to improve the protection for animals in our country."
Cristina Corbin is a Fox News reporter based in New York. Follow her on Twitter @CristinaCorbin.