While a rescued dog now known as Ethan wasn’t in court Thursday, he had plenty of friends there, willing to sit and stay.

About 40 animal-rights activists and other supporters showed up at a court appearance for Andre Davis, Ethan’s former owner, who is accused of abusing him. Davis is charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, according to arrest records.

Chicago Police Lt. John Garrido, who rescued Ethan, also was there; he said the community was responding to a plea for support posted on Facebook Wednesday by Garrido’s nonprofit, Garrido Stray and Rescue Foundation. Ethan’s supporters stood when the defendant was called to show they wanted justice, Garrido said. The group then sat and remained silent for the rest of the hearing at a Cook County branch courthouse, 5555 W. Grand Ave.

Andre J. Davis, 26, charged with aggravated cruelty to animals

Andre J. Davis, 26, was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals. A dog, named Ethan by his rescuers, was left unattended in an apartment in the 6200 block of West Montrose Avenue, according to officers in the Chicago Police Department’s 16th District. When found, he was starving and near death, but an animal rescue group nursed him back to health and placed him in a foster home. | Chicago Police Department

Ethan was in extremely poor health when police rescued him from a Northwest Side apartment on Aug. 26; police say he’d been abandoned there about three weeks before. The dog was taken to Niles Animal Hospital and Bird Medical Center for emergency treatment. He was emaciated, his ribs were showing, his muscles had begun to waste away and he was very cold, said Dr. Peter Sakas, one of the veterinarian’s at the animal hospital.

“Thankfully, due to the successful intervention/quick action by Officer [John] Garrido, Ethan was saved in the nick of time from dying a horrific painful death,” Sakas wrote in a statement to police.

Garrido said in his experience, similar cases of cruelty or neglect slip through the cracks, and he wanted to make sure everyone knew the community was keeping an eye on this case.

This was, he added, the first time his organization had urged people to come to court.

“You could tell it was definitely a surprise to the judge and everyone in the courtroom to see everyone stand up,” Garrido said.

Davis’ case next goes to a grand jury, Garrido said. Davis is charged with a Class 4 felony; if convicted, a fine, probation or prison time all are possible. His next court date is set for Oct. 3.

Sakas, who has been with Niles Animal Hospital for 38 years, described the case as one of the worst he’s seen.

“Ethan was really, really, a sad situation because you could see this little guy was trying to survive,” Sakas said.

Sakas said Ethan appears to be recovering well.

Ethan the dog, doing well after being rescued

Ethan was emaciated and weak when he was found, but is recovering. | Provided

Garrido Stray Rescue Foundation was formed by Garrido and his wife Anna in 2014. Garrido said he has found social media an instrumental tool in reuniting pets with owners, which is one of the main missions of the foundation. The foundation works with the city’s Animal Care and Control division to foster lost or abused animals in the city.

“I think with the use of social media and just educating people, I think this network is developing and growing and has a significant impact on these cases,” Garrido said.

Since logging Ethan’s progress on Facebook, Garrido said he has received about 60 offers from people who want to adopt the dog.

Ethan the dog

Ethan has made progress in his recovery, according to one of the vets who treated him, Dr. Peter Sakas. | Provided