In her 33 years as a humane officer, dog warden Barb Knapp said she's seen only a few dogs reach this point.
"It's just heartbreaking that someone would do this to a doggy," said Amy Porter, director of the Erie County Humane Society.
Sweet Pea, a 12-year-old terrier mix, was found Thursday on the side of the road by a passer-by and was taken to the shelter.
Severely emaciated and malnourished, the dog weighs only 8 pounds, Porter said. A healthy dog her size should weigh 20 to 25 pounds.
"She's so skinny," Porter said. "We didn't think she would make it through the night. Usually at this point they just give up."
In addition to a bony frame, Sweet Pea has kidney failure, anemia and bad teeth.
"We're alleging abuse in this case," Porter said.
Animal cruelty is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable with up to 90 days in jail and a minimum fine of $750.
It's better for an owner to turn an animal in so it can get proper care than to let its health deteriorate, Knapp said.
"The underlying thing is some people have dogs like that and don't have the heart to put it to sleep," she said, talking about the situations those like Sweet Pea find themselves in. "You need to give the animal peace of mind."
Sweet Pea has been on a liquid diet and antibiotics since she was taken to the shelter.
"We're hoping for the best," Porter said, adding that the dog is not up for adoption because of her poor health. "She may or may not recover."
Anyone who would like to make a donation to help pay for veterinarian care of Sweet Pea or any other animals in need are urged to contact the Erie County Humane Society. People with information about Sweet Pea are asked to call 419-627-7607.