She remained free in lieu of $20,000 bail and as due back in court May 25. Nizato could face as many as three years behind bars if the prosecution is successful.
The dog, named Bosco, was "rescued" from the defendants home April 6. Authorities claim the pet had no food in its system and that a veterinarian found dirt and rocks in his stomach.
The canine is now in the care of German Shephard Rescue of Orange County, which renamed him Courage. The group reports that he is "defying the odds and responding very quickly to treatment and care," according to its website.