An Ottawa man has been charged after a Great Dane purchased online was found to be emaciated and near death.

Starving dog, Charlie

The Humane Society alleges the Great Dane had been underfed for months prior to his online sale. (Ottawa Humane Society)

The Ottawa Humane Society said Charlie, a five-year-old Great Dane, was sold on Kijiji on Jan. 20. After purchasing the dog, the new owner surrendered it to the humane society to get emergency care.

The agency said the dog was near death and weighed just 53 pounds. A dog his size should have weighed 120 pounds, according to OHS veterinarians.

“It was a shock to see a big dog that skinny. He was skin and bones,” said OHS inspector Miriam Smith in a statement. “I was surprised Charlie was still alive.”

The dog is now recuperating with a foster family and has regained 10 pounds.

Jason Woodruff, 32, of Ottawa has been charged with permitting an animal to be in distress and with failing to provide adequate food, water and medical attention.

The Humane Society alleges Woodruff hadn’t been feeding the dog enough for months leading up to his sale of the animal online.

He could face up to two years in jail, a $60,000 fine and a lifetime ban on owning animals.

His first court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 27.

More abuse investigations in 2013 than 2012

Bruce Roney Ottawa Humane Society

Bruce Roney, the executive director of the Ottawa Humane Society, said it's hard to tell why animal abuse reports are up. (CBC)

Ottawa Humane Society executive director Bruce Roney said Monday that abuse cases are now their second-most frequent calls after animals being left in hot cars, a change from recent years when lack of veterinary care was number two.

Roney said abuse investigations rose noticeably as 2013 went on.

"I know our investigations were up 18 per cent between 2013 and 2012," he said.

"The latter part of 2013, we were even seeing higher increases in the last part of the year, I believe it was close to 35 per cent."

Roney said they don't know whether there's more animal abuse happening, or more people are thinking to call them about it.

"It's really hard to tell, but it's disturbing one way or another," he said.