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Fla. police search for person who left dog muzzled 10-14 days

PLANTATION, Fla. - It's been 10 days since a malnourished pit bull named Liberty was found roaming the streets of Plantation, Fla., with a muzzle clamping her mouth shut, and the dog still has more surgeries to undergo, reports CBS Miami.

Plantation Police say the person who muzzled Liberty with a thick rubber band committed "an extreme act of cruelty" against the animal. When she was found July 18, her jawbone was exposed, and her part of her tongue was missing.

Veterinary doctors estimate she was muzzled for between 10 and 14 days.

"The minute we clipped it off, she took a breath and was like, finally," Heather Wessel, a Certified Veterinary Technician, said.

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Liberty, a dog who was found muzzled and malnourished in Plantation, Fla., on July 18, 2015. CBS Miami via Coral Springs Animal Hospital

Wessel worked to save Liberty, who has been so named because doctors and nurses liberated her from her injury, and is also fostering the pit bull mixed breed. Wessel says Liberty suffered.

"I don't know how she survived with something clamped," Wessel said. "How did she eat for all of those days? How did she drink water?"

But the key question that investigators are trying to figure out is who put the muzzle on the dog.

Police say the dog's owner reported her missing July 12. Then someone reported seeing a man abandon a dog matching Liberty's description on July 17 driving an older model black vehicle in the area near the Turnpike overpass on W. Sunrise Boulevard.

Liberty was found on the streets of Plantation the next day. Investigators rushed her to the hospital where veterinary surgeon Carl Jehn worked to close her wound.

"If it had been left untreated, it certainly would have been fatal," Jehn said.

He said he's rarely seen a case this bad.

"I can't imagine anything much crueler than what was done to her," he said.

Wessel is impressed by Liberty's demeanor. She says Liberty has remained calm and happy despite what she's been through.

"As much as I'm going to teach her a lesson in loving and trusting, she's already taught me the same lesson," Wessel said. "Be resilient. She's a fighter. And I think that's awesome."

Liberty will undergo more surgeries in the coming weeks. The veterinarian said she will be able to eat and drink on her own but will never regain full movement of her nose and upper lip.

Plantation Police say they hope that someone in the community knows who put the muzzle on Liberty. If you have any information contact Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS.