MORGANTOWN \u2014 There was a time Winston\u2019s future looked bleak.\r\nNow, the Yorkshire Terrier is ready to help other animals by convincing state lawmakers to increase penalties for those who repeatedly abuse them.\r\nWinston\u00a0 was found in Rivesville on July 31. He was in a zipped-up cooler bag, in a ditch. His fur was matted, and he was blind due to cataracts in both eyes.\r\nHe was found by a man walking his Saint Bernard and taken to the Marion County Humane Society, where his journey to a new life began.\r\nCasey Johnson and his girlfriend, Kelley, of Fairmont, saw a newscast about Winston\u2019s plight.\r\n\u201cIt broke our hearts to see him like that,\u201d Johnson said. \u201cI told my girlfriend, \u2018I\u2019m going to go get him.\u2019 \u201d\r\nThat same day, Johnson wrote an email to the humane society and said he wanted to adopt the little guy. He said he \u201cliterally stalked\u201d the humane society for a couple of months, keeping track of how Winston was doing and making sure officials there knew he hadn\u2019t changed his mind.\r\nA lot of people were pulling for Winston, buying \u201cJustice for Winston\u201d T-shirts to help pay his medical bills. They still reach out to him on social media.\r\n\u201cI can\u2019t believe how one little pet touched so many people,\u201d Johnson said. \u201cIt renews my faith in humanity. I didn\u2019t know there were that many people who cared.\u201d\r\nSometime around September, Johnson contacted the society again and was told there were hundreds of inquiries about the Yorkie and the adoption process would be a long one.\r\nThe humane society posted on social media when adoption applications could be submitted.\r\n\u201cI said, \u2018I\u2019m ready. When are we doing this?\u2019 They opened at 11 a.m.\u00a0 and I was there an hour and half early, waiting for the doors to unlock,\u201d Johnson said.\r\nApplications were taken for a week\u00a0 and then about a week after that, Johnson got a phone call.\r\n\u201cThey said they went through the selection process and decided we want you to have Winston,\u201d he said.\r\nHe picked the Yorkie up 15 minutes later. And Winston went home to\u00a0meet Loki, a 1-year-old Yorkie already in the Johnson household.\r\nThe vet estimated Winston to be about 9.\r\nWinston had surgery on his eyes and now sees better. He\u2019s put on a couple of pounds and is adjusting to his new life.\r\n\u201cI slept on the couch with him for the first three or four days,\u201d Johnson said. \u201cThen the weekend came, and Kelley was off work and home with him. That\u2019s the day I lost my dog to my girlfriend. He picked his favorite person.\u201d\r\nWinston also now has a sister, Karma, who\u00a0 Johnson\u00a0 recently adopted. She\u2019s also a Yorkie.\r\nWinston is still skittish, but Johnson said he loves to cuddle and show love to those taking care of him.\r\n\u201cI feel, and this is just an assumption not a fact, but at some point, someone cared for this dog,\u201d Johnson said. \u201cHe can sit. He can shake paws, just like any other trained dog.\u201d\r\nIn less than five months, Winston became somewhat of a celebrity. He has his own Facebook page with 1,700 friends. He has his own Post Office box because people were wanting to send him Christmas cards and gifts. He even has his own cell phone, but Johnson said Winston does not answer it.\r\n<strong>Winston\u2019s Law<\/strong>\r\nAs sure as he was about adopting Winston, Johnson knew he wanted to do something to make animal cruelty laws harsher.\r\nIt wasn\u2019t\u00a0 long before Heather Severt took the lead.\r\nSevert is the West Virginia State director for the Humane Society of the United States. She also works at the Marion County Humane Society, so she\u2019s been part of Winston\u2019s case since the day after he was found.\r\nThrough the national society, she helped with the investigation, providing support and a reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.\r\n\u201cCasey had a really strong desire to improve the West Virginia cruelty laws,\u201d Severt said. \u201cHe\u2019s very motivated, and I\u2019m very happy to help put this in motion.\u201d\r\nSevert said she has\u00a0a lead sponsor and some co-sponsors for a Senate Bill, but she didn\u2019t\u00a0want to identify anyone until closer to the upcoming Legislative session, which is in January.\r\n\u201cI think, optimistically, we are ahead of the game,\u201d she said. She\u2019s hoping to submit the bill in the\u00a0first week.\r\nSevert is a registered lobbyist, so she spends a\u00a0lot of every session in Charleston. She\u2019ll do that again this time, pushing for Winston\u2019s Law. She\u2019s hoping Johnson and Winston will be able to join her.\r\n\u201cI\u2019d at least like to have a meeting with them and the lead sponsors and others," she said.\r\nThe bill will make penalties harsher. It adds an option between the misdemeanor and felony animal cruelty charges and adds a felony charge for repeat offenders.\r\nShe said right now, a prosecutor has to prove torture and intent, and that\u2019s not always easy.\r\n\u201cWe see cases all the time,\u201d she said. \u201cThe suffering can be horrific at times. There\u2019s a lack of care or compassion. Some people are repeatedly charged with misdemeanors, but it means nothing to them.\u201d\r\nSevert said she knows there are some people who suffer mental illness \u2014 hoarders, for example \u2014 who don\u2019t realize they are abusing the animals. Those are not the people she wants to go after with the repeat-offender clause.\r\nAnyone who wants to help get the bill passed into law can contact lawmakers.\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s important that anyone interested in helping to support the effort, one of the best things they can do is reach out to legislators,\u201d Severt said. \u201cGo to the senators first and ask them to support the bill.\r\n\u201cYou can even ask if they are interested in co-sponsoring the bill.\u201d\r\nThe bill doesn\u2019t have a number yet, but Severt hopes to have one by early January.\r\nSupporters can also contact law enforcement agencies and animal-related organizations and ask them to send endorsements of the bill to the House and Senate, Severt said.\r\n<strong>The crime<\/strong>\r\nJustin Lancianese, 35, of Rivesville, was arrested Aug. 9. He was initially charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty.\r\nThose charges were dropped later in August and upgraded to a felony animal cruelty charge.\r\nHe is still in the North Central Regional Jail on a $5,000 bond.