The Parker County Sheriff's Department is investigating a case of animal cruelty after a dog was found severely injured and frightened.
The dog, a young pug-mix, was found Monday morning with a severely swollen tongue after someone used electrical tape to forcefully shut the dog's mouth after pulling out her tongue, police said.
"It was horrific. Her mouth was so gross it was awful," said Melanie Labrake, who first found the dog. "She walked by me and she just looked up at me like, 'Help me,' and I thought, 'I don’t even know what’s wrong with you,' but that’s her tongue.”
Labrake tried to remove the tape, but the scared dog ran. A group of concerned citizens then searched for the dog for several hours on horseback, SUVs and on foot until she was found circling a stock tank.
She again ran from her rescuers but was later found near a creek bed.
"I've been here almost 11 years and I can say I think that I've seen the worst, but I will say this the worst that I have ever seen," said Parker County Animal Control supervisor Karen Kessler who helped find the dog.
The dog, now named Hope, was taken to Bowie Drive Animal Hospital where she is undergoing treatment thanks to Dr. Kevin Buchanan.
Vets at the clinic said it took more than 100 internal and external stitches to close five open wounds that were one- to five-inches in length, through the muscle tissue. Doctors said that Hope's mouth was taped shut for more than 24 hours and that she will likely lose a portion of her tongue.
Originally unable to eat or drink, Hope underwent surgery and was given pain killers an IV and antibiotics. Fears that she may not be able to eat or drink on her own have subsided as doctors at the animal hospital said Wednesday morning that Hope has been eating and appears to be getting better.
According to the Parker County Sheriff's Department, "several local businesses are establishing a reward fund for information leading to the identification of the suspect(s) involved in the crime against Hope."
Due to an outpouring of support, there are two rewards totaling $35,000. Parker County Crimestoppers guarantees a $10,000 reward and an anonymous donor has come forward to offer a $25,000 reward through the Texas Humane Alliance.
"This is horrendous," said Larry Fowler, Parker County Sheriff. "I can’t imagine what would bring a person to such an evil act. We are fortunate to have found her when we did. Our investigators have seen some pretty terrible things in their careers, but this case is deeply disturbing and leaves us shocked."
Fowler added that evidence found on Hope have been submitted to an area crime lab for analysis.
"Anyone with any information is strongly urged to contact us," Fowler said. "We are treating this case with the highest priority."
Cruelty and torture of a non-livestock animal is a state jail felony.
Anyone with information about Hope is asked to call the Parker County Sheriff’s Department at 817-596-8845 or the Parker County Crime Stoppers Hotline at 817-599-5555. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible to receive the reward.
NBC 5's Andrew Tanielian and Ben Russell contributed to this story.