Animals Stories

Teen Arrested For Starving Dog Then Zip-Tying Her Legs And Burying Her Alive

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A woman from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, was recently charged with animal abuse. 19-year-old Breawna Austin’s dog ended up at the shelter twice in the same month. But the second time, the dog was near death after being buried alive.

The dog’s health had significantly declined since her first visit to the shelter, but Austin came up with excuses for her actions. She claimed she thought the dog was dead when she buried her, but that doesn’t excuse her actions. Based on the dog’s state, she was clearly abused and neglected well before that horrific incident.


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Dog Buried Alive

On February 18th, 2022, Austin’s dog named Pepper was found as a stray by animal control. At the time, the Labrador Retriever mix weighed 47 pounds, and she was microchipped. So, Austin showed them proof of identification and took the dog home with her.

Pepper returned to animal control about a month later. Austin had zip-tied the dog’s back legs together and buried her alive. Luckily, someone found the dog and contacted Southeast Missouri Pets. Now, she weighs less than 30 pounds.

When confronted, Austin claimed that Pepper was dead when she buried her alive. She also denied putting zip ties on her dog’s legs. However, Cape Girardeau police officers can tell that some obvious neglect occurred.


“Austin stated she woke up on [March] 19 to find Pepper died. [She] said she took Pepper out to a pond near Cape Rock and buried Pepper. [She] stated she was 100 percent positive Pepper was dead when she was buried. Austin denied knowing anything about the zip ties,” an officer said.

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Pepper Deserves Justice

Not only is Pepper malnourished, but she has a severe wound around her back legs. Cuts go around 60% to 70% of her back legs, causing bone or connective tissue to be visible. Yet, the pup has been more optimistic than the shelter staff expected.

“Surprisingly, she’s super resilient, and she’s been very trusting,” said Tracy Poston, executive director for Southeast Missouri Pets. “Like she knows we’re here to help her. After being treated so badly, sometimes they’re scared, and she’s been really, ‘I get, you guys are here to help.’”


Austin is now facing animal abuse charges. She’s currently being held at Cape Girardeau City Jail. Pepper isn’t up for adoption yet because she has a lot of recovering to do. But one day, she’ll find a loving home where she’ll never be abused again. Pepper deserves justice!

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