NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- If they had tails, the staff at Garden State Veterinary Specialists would be wagging them.
A judge awarded custody Thursday to the Tinton Falls hospital and its staff members who had been caring for a 1-year-old pit bull that was found starving in a Newark trash chute in March.
The dog was named Patrick because he was found near death the day before St. Patrick's Day.
Patrick was at the center of a dispute between the animal hospital and Associated Humane Societies, the organization that initially discovered him. The humane society wanted to move Patrick to a shelter in Forked River that shares property with the AHS Popcorn Park Zoo to await his final adoption decision.
The hospital, who nursed him back to health, wanted to keep him until he's ready for adoption.
According to a Facebook post from NJ SPCA, "Judge Joseph C. Cassini of Superior Court of NJ in Essex rendered the verdict that Patrick is a victim and evidence, so he stays with GSVS pending criminal charges of Kisha Curtis."
Authorities say Curtis tied Patrick to a railing in her Newark apartment building and left the state for more than a week. A janitor later found the emaciated dog in a trash bin.
Patrick's story received worldwide attention when he was rescued in March, with hundreds of donations pouring in since then for his medical care.
Curtis is charged with two fourth-degree offenses for "tormenting and torturing" an animal. She also faces two abandonment charges that are punishable by up to six months in jail.
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