02/07/2015 06:07 EST | Updated 04/09/2015 05:59 EDT

B.C. SPCA finds owner of emaciated husky found wandering in Maple Ridge

MAPLE RIDGE, B.C. - The B.C. SPCA has identified the owner of a severely emaciated Siberian husky who had been eating gravel and dirt to stay alive.

The dog — now named Willow and estimated to be between one and two years old — weighed just 15 kilograms when she was found wandering in Maple Ridge last week.

"She was pretty much near death," said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer for the B.C. SPCA.

"She had pretty much zero fat stores and when they did an X-ray on her stomach, it was filled with pebbles and gravel, because we presume that was all she could find to eat."

She said the dog's owner has been identified as a Coquitlam resident and university student in his 20s. SPCA officers have interviewed him and believe there is sufficient evidence to move forward with animal cruelty charges.

Moriarty said the agency hopes to gather a case to present to Crown counsel by the end of next week.

She said the SPCA learned of the owner's identity through a phone call from a neighbour who recognized the husky after seeing her photo in the media.

Willow was brought to the Maple Ridge SPCA on Jan. 31 by a Good Samaritan. She was extremely weak and malnourished, as a normal weight for a dog of her age and breed is about 24 kilograms.

"Of course, it was touch and go for that first 24 hours," said Moriarty. "It will be a long road to recovery, but we have every reason to believe that hopefully she will completely recover and go on to live a very happy life."

The dog remains in the care of the Maple Ridge SPCA, where her diet is being closely monitored by a veterinarian. Donations for her ongoing care are welcomed by the agency.