EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 23, 2012

MSPCA charges woman with cruelty for starving dogs to death

By Jill Harmacinski jharmacinski@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — LAWRENCE - A Congress Street woman accused of starving two dogs to death is scheduled to be arraigned on felony animal cruelty charges next month.

Two dogs, a terrier named “Niko,” dead for at least a week, along with an emaciated pitbull mix named “Jada,” were found in the 51 Congress St. apartment of Raisa Reyes, 26, on Oct. 4.

Jada, the pitbull mix, was dehydrated, approximately 30 pounds underweight and later had to be euthanized.

MSPCA-Angell law enforcement officials yesterday announced they filed two felony animal cruelty charges against Reyes. She will be arraigned on Nov. 28 in Lawrence District Court.

“I pray that justice will prevail for Jada and Niko,” said Ellen Bistany, the city’s animal control officer.

Bistany along with Martha Parkhurst, an MSPCA law enforcement officer, discovered the dead terrier in a trash bag and Jada clinging to life in Reyes’ fithy apartment that day.

In a Lawrence police report, Bistany described the conditions she found as deplorable, revolting and needless and said it was the worst starvation case she’d seen in her 18 years as animal control officer. Both officers were overcome by the foul odor in the unit. Reyes lived there with her two children, ages 7 and 5, and at least two dogs.

Reyes surrendered Jada to the officers and she was taken to the MSPCA in Methuen where she was treated by veterinarian Dr. Pam Wilmot. Due to her grave condition, Jada was “humanely” euthanized, according to the MSPCA.

“I’m pleased we are at the stage where we are seeking justice for Jada and Niko,” Parkhurst said yesterday. Due the pending criminal case, Parkhurst said she could not comment further on the charges.

Lawrence Police Chief John Romero said he hoped Reyes would be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

“That poor dog could barely stand up,” Romero said of Jada.

An anonymous tip initially led Bistany to Reyes’ home. She immediately called Parkhurst to assist on the case.

At first Reyes denied having any dogs in her apartment. She later admitted to having Niko and Jada.

Officers said the apartment smelled of dog urine and feces. Niko was found in a black trash bag full of dog feces.

Reyes also told the officers she couldn’t get Jada to eat for her. But Parkhurst fed her part of a submarine sandwich in the apartment and Jada devoured it,

according to Bistany’s report.

Reyes could not be reached for comment for this story. In 2011, the MSPCA investigated 2,300 animal cruelty complaints.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.