Puppy abandoned in house euthanized, SPCA seeks former homeowner

By ROBIN BROWN, The News Journal (Wilmington, DE)

Authorities are seeking the public’s help finding Freddie Lee Gray Jr., who has been charged with animal cruelty in a nine-count arrest warrant in connection with a puppy found caged and starving in the suspect’s former Wilton home.

The 6-month-old brindle pit bull -- little more than mangy skin and bones -- was euthanized late Friday due to the severity of its medical problems and his pain and suffering, said Delaware SPCA Executive Director John E. Caldwell.

Gray apparently vacated his Wedgefield Court home near the U.S. 13-40 split and moved out everything but the dog, he said.

He may have been left for weeks, and had months-old medical problems, said veterinary technician Sarah Van Aken.

A worker changing locks Tuesday night in the otherwise empty house found the puppy in a cage in a second-floor bedroom, Caldwell said.

The worker called the Delaware SPCA, he said. The nonprofit pet adoption agency also investigates cruelty cases statewide.

The arrest warrant obtained by Delaware SPCA Cruelty Investigator John Saville charges 42-year-old Gray with three counts of cruel neglect for dog abandonment, failure to provide sanitary conditions and failure to provide proper care to prevent the dog’s poor condition and to provide veterinary care for treatment of that condition.

Under state law, animal cruelty is punishable by fines up to $5,000 and five years in prison.

“This is one of the worst cases of cruelty I’ve ever seen,” said Caldwell, who has been the Delaware SPCA’s director for more than 25 years. “He was in extremely critical condition.”

“His gums were pale and he wasn’t moving,” Van Aken said.

He appeared to have survived by eating feces and licking his decaying flesh and scabs, she said.

His initial crisis care topped $1,000 for antibiotics, fluids, liquid nutrition, mite treatment, necrotic flesh removal and pain medication, Caldwell said.

By Thursday, he could walk a little. Van Aken said he drank a little water, but still couldn’t eat.

His joints were swollen, inflamed and misshapen, a condition attributed to calcium deficiency from too little food or poor diet.

He suffered severe malnourishment, dehydration, anemia and mange from a mite infestation, Caldwell said. He weight 22 pounds “when ideal weight would be about 40,” he said.

At that point, the puppy was expected to survive with months of treatment and recovery.

“He’s a sweetheart,” Van Aken said, holding him Thursday. He welcomed petting and during one treatment, she said, “He just curled up in my lap.”

But Friday, “he just went downhill fast,” Caldwell said; his temperature spiked, he grew lethargic and was rushed for emergency veterinary care.

His condition was so poor, the wounds so deep, his pain and suffering so severe, the veterinarian recommended euthanasia for humane reasons, Caldwell said, and by SPCA policy, they were obligated to comply.

“It’s a shame,” he said. “Poor little guy.”

ABC story here


What the dog does when you go to work

Dogs & Cats Forever gives Hurricane Katrina victim, pet 'storybook ending'

February 28, 2007

"Jill" is "Elsa" once again.

Shortly after noon Tuesday, Jenna LaFuentes, who lost her New Orleans home in Hurricane Katrina, was reunited with her cat Elsa, who has been known as Jill at the Dogs & Cats Forever shelter in Port St. Lucie for the past 1 1/2 years.

When she saw the cat in its carrier at the Delta Air Lines counter in Orlando International Airport, LaFuentes broke into tears.

"It was wonderful," Andrea Nicholson, a volunteer at the no-kill shelter who helped reunite the pet and owner, said at the airport after the reunion. "At the shelter, Jill always ran from strangers; but not today. She acted like she wanted Jenna to pet her. Jenna is convinced that this is her cat, and we're convinced this is her cat."

Nicholson reported that LaFuentes peeked in the carrier and said to Elsa, "How are you, baby? I thought I'd never see you again."

Just before Katrina hit in August 2005, LaFuentes and her 11-year-old daughter, Destiny Taylor, fled their ground-floor apartment in St. Bernard's Parish and left the gray, tiger- striped Elsa in the care of neighbors upstairs.

But the rising water threatened the upstairs apartment, too; and the neighbors were forced to abandon their home and the cats.

After the storm, LaFuentes searched Web sites for animal shelters that took in animals left homeless by Katrina. In October, she saw a photo of "Jill" on the Dogs & Cats Forever site and was convinced it was Elsa.

Once shelter officials were convinced as well, the reunion was arranged thanks to an anonymous donor who paid LaFuentes' airfare from New Orleans to Orlando and back home.

Nicholson and Jay Apicella, the shelter director, drove Jill from Port St. Lucie to Orlando for the rendezvous.

Weather in New Orleans played one more trick Tuesday morning to keep LaFuentes from reuniting with her cat: Fog in The Big Easy delayed her Southwest Airlines flight to Orlando two hours.

The good news: Delta waived the $50 pet fee for the flight back to New Orleans.

Nicholson called the reunion "a storybook ending. I wish all the animals we find abandoned could have this happen to them. ... To see something like this makes us feel that we're doing some good."


Katrina dog reunited with grateful owner

Deborah Marks drove from New Orleans to Normal, IL earlier this month to pick up Goldie, the dog from whom she was separated since Katrina when she left to get insulin for her diabetic aunt and was then not allowed back to her home. The Humane Society of Central Illinois flew Goldie to Bloomington after she was rescued. A local family adopted the dog and Deborah filed a lawsuit.

I received the following email from Deborah along with this photo of Goldie at home.

Below Deborah's email & photo are some of the more moronic quotes from
Maurice Barry, Vice President and attorney (maybe soon-to-be former attorney) for the Humane Society of Central Illinois:

Goldie Home Again

Hi everyone this is Deborah emailing just to say THANK YOU for helping my family get our dog Goldie back. Goldie was returned on February 01,2007 by her adopted family. Goldie is doing fine.

Again I would like to thank Mrs.Hunley, my lawyer Dominic and their staff from putting up with me calling all day and almost everyday. All of the rescue groups, volunteers who have taken the time to research and help me find Goldie. To the adopted family THANK YOU, for taking care of her and for having a heart to give her back.

Words can not express how my family feel having her home. I am sorry for emailing so late with this information. Thanks again to everyone for their support in this journey.


This is Goldie at a shelter after Katrina

Maurice Barry quotes:

"There's a lot more to this than what she's saying," Barry said. "When the facts come out, you'll see she's misrepresented facts. She's tried every route to cause problems for the Humane Society."

Barry said that even if the dog did belong to Marks, the Humane Society still will oppose taking her away from its adopted family

Marks has been the only pet owner to contact the Humane Society about any of the Katrina pets, Barry said.

Barry recalled the emergency trip he took with Dave Severino to Slidell Airport last year to rescue the pets about a month after Katrina. Volunteers from St. Tammany Parish quickly helped load the dogs and cats on the plane during the rescue mission. There were no documents signed concerning ownership of the pets, which the volunteers represented as having been relinquished or abandoned during the disaster, Barry said.

"We were just worried about getting them the hell out of there," Barry said. "Every one of those dogs and cats would have died had we not flown down there that day."

“You’re going to make her out to be the biggest martyr in the world,” Barry said from his office Thursday. “This is news to me completely. We seem to be making up the story as it goes along. Everyone from New Orleans has a bad story.

“That dog would be dead if we hadn’t flown there to pick it up. Period. That’s the story,” he said.