Starving dog’s DNA may hold clues in cruelty case

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Her name is Hope.

She is five to seven years old.

She weighed just 30 pounds when a Good Samaritan found her wandering the streets in Branford, Connecticut last month. She was clearly starving. And by all accounts, she was near death.

Eli, the In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot.
In Brief Legal Writing Services mascot Eli catching up on the latest news. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

For weeks, veterinarians at two animal hospitals struggled to save her. Her treatment included surgery to remove an object that had been obstructing her intestines — and a lot of TLC.

Their efforts paid off and today, Hope — whose plight attracted plenty of attention from the media and public —  seems to be well on the road to recovery. If all goes according to plan, she could soon be adopted.

DNA test may yield clues in ongoing investigation

In the meantime, a reward has been offered and authorities are still seeking information about the person or people who may be responsible for neglecting Hope.

Now the administrator of the animal shelter where the Good Samaritan brought Hope says the results of a recent DNA test might provide some additional insight.

“She is actually predominantly Rottweiler, 80 to 90 percent. One of the parents had to be a full-bred and the other parent was a mix,” Laura Burban told the media. “If somebody was breeding a certain type of dog, it would help us in our investigation, potentially, if anyone knows who was breeding this type of dog in the area. For some people who are backyard breeders, they breed long-term. They have many puppies, many litters and we thought it would be helpful.”

Animal cruelty and neglect

Under Connecticut law, someone is guilty of animal cruelty if they:

  • Deprive the animal of essential food and water
  • Abandon it
  • Confines it without providing proper care

The maximum punishment upon conviction for the first offense is a $1,000 fine, one year in prison or both. A second and each subsequent offense is classified as a Class D felony.

Cruel and unusual punishment

This vintage typwriter is our featured image.

As a cops and courts reporter for more than 20 years, I covered more than my share of heartbreaking stories…

There was the aftermath of 9/11 in the New York City suburbs and the accidental drowning death of a small autistic boy. There were homicides, car crashes that claimed young lives and the “war stories” about battered young veterans coming home from Afghanistan or Iraq.

But for some reason the stories that bugged me most — the ones that I remember to this day — are those that involved animal cruelty, abuse or neglect.

As someone who loves animals and as a responsible pet owner, I couldn’t — and still can’t understand why anyone would deliberately hurt or even neglect an innocent dog, cat, horse… or any other creature for that matter. But you don’t need to love, or even like animals in order to find this behavior reprehensible. All you’ve got to be is a compassionate human being.

Alexandra Bogdanovic
Founder/owner of In Brief Legal Writing Services, Alexandra Bogdanovic. Photo by N. Bogdanovic

As someone who loves animals and as a compassionate person, I found a recent account about the confiscation of dozens of animals in Connecticut to be especially disturbing. According to a report, a complaint alerted authorities that something was amiss at the East Hampton complex back in September. Subsequent attempts to ensure the animals — including more than 30 horses — received adequate care on site reportedly yielded mixed results.

“The horses, along with two dogs, several rabbits and more than 80 chickens, were removed from the Fairy Tail Equine facility after an investigation that determined the animals were malnourished, not receiving proper veterinary care and kept in unhealthy conditions,” the Connecticut Department of Agriculture reported February 3. 

 Connecticut officials also said that the horses, which were confiscated pursuant to  a search-and-seizure warrant signed by a Superior Court judge, were transported to the department’s Second Chance large animal rehabilitation facility in Niantic. The smaller animals that were also seized have since been sent to nearby animal shelters.

 An investigation is ongoing and it is unclear whether the owners will face criminal charges.

In some cases, criminal charges aren’t warranted. Some people are simply financially or emotionally incapable of providing adequate care for their animals. Some are just irresponsible. In such cases, a simple ban on future ownership is all that’s needed.


Having said that, studies show in many cases that people who are capable of harming animals also show little regard for human life. As long as that is so, it’s essential that animal cruelty cases continue to be taken seriously and that offenders are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.