EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 11, 2012

Dead dog found in Lawrence apartment

Woman faces animal cruelty charge

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

---- — LAWRENCE — A Congress Street woman is accused of leaving a dead terrier in her apartment for at least a week and nearly starving her other dog to death

Ellen Bistany, the city’s animal control officer, said the conditions she found at 51 Congress St. were deplorable, revolting and needless. “I have to say, it’s probably the worst starvation case I’ve ever seen,” said Bistany, who has been in the job for 18 years.

Bistany said anyone who cannot care for or feed their dog can call her at the police department or the MSPCA in Methuen. “I don’t understand how anyone can let this happen. There are so many rescue facilities out there.”

Raisa Reyes, 26, was issued a summons to court on an animal cruelty charge after the dead terrier and the extremely thin pitbull mix were found by investigators in her apartment, which reeked of urine and dog feces. Reyes has two children, ages 7 and 5, Bistany said.

“The pitbull, named Jayda, was so weak that it could not stand for long and would fall to the floor several times as I was observing the dog. The ribs and hip bones were clearly visible,” Bistany wrote in the report.

The dead terrier, a male, was found in a black trash bag in the apartment. The bag also contained a large amount of dog feces.

A necropsy is being performed on the terrier. The pitbull is undergoing “extensive medical treatment” at MSPCA in Methuen, but may need to be euthanized due to her grave physical condition, Bistany said.

“They could barely get blood from the vein to do the blood work,” Bistany said.

An anonymous tip about a “horrific smell” led Bistany to the Reyes’ apartment last Thursday.

At first, Reyes said she didn’t have any dogs in her apartment when Bistany went there to investigate. Bistany later returned with Marcia Parkhurst, an MSPCA law enforcement officer.

Bistany and Parkhurst went to the back door and encountered a “strong, foul odor” coming from inside the home. When Reyes opened the door, the odor got worse, Bistany said.

Parkhurst asked Reyes if she had any dogs and this time she answered “yes.” Inside the apartment, the kitchen floor was covered with clothes. “It was wet and smelled of a combination of urine and a foul odor,” she wrote.

Reyes said she had a pitbull that was sick and the dog would not eat for her, no matter what she tried. But Parkhurst offered the dog a piece of a sub sandwich that was on the counter. The pitbull “devoured” it, Bistany wrote.

Reyes first told Bistany she got rid of the dead dog. But, she said, she couldn’t remember what day the dog died. Then she said she couldn’t tell her children the dog died because they would have been upset.

When Bistany asked Reyes if she could look in the black trash bag, “she started to weep and stated that the dead dog was in the bag.”

Reyes could not be reached for comment. She asked Bistany if she would go to jail.

In an interview yesterday, Bistany said Reyes was well dressed and groomed and had an iPhone. “Common sense says you don’t just starve an animal. She said the dog wouldn’t eat but clearly (Jayda) wanted to eat ... What a poor life that dog had.”

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