New Haven police arrested a city man accused of starving his two dogs after a child reached out to police, concerned about one dog’s condition.
Officers Michael Fumiatti II and Matthew Stevens were on their beat at James and Wolcott streets at 5:17 p.m., yesterday when a child approached them, concerned about a dog that was tied up in a nearby back yard, police said.
Officers went to the back yard at 191 Wolcott Street and found two greatly malnourished dogs.
A very thin adult grey female Pit Bull terrier tied to a tree was stuck between the tree and some overgrown bushes and unable to move more than a couple feet, police said.
A neighbor who noticed the officers pointed out another dog in even dire condition.
The older male black and white Pit Bull terrier was motionless on the ground covered with flies, police said.
He was emaciated, did not respond to the officers’ voices and had no access to shelter, food or water, police said.
They determined that the animals had been neglected for as many as several weeks.
Police called the department's Animal Control Division.
When they arrived, the male dog was too weak to walk, so the animal control officers used a blanket to create an improvised stretcher to carry him on.
Once police knew the dogs were being cared for and on the way to the animal shelter, police started searching for their owner.
The property owner said her nephew owned the dogs and gave police his phone number.
Police then called William Cepeda, 32, of Greenwich Avenue in New Haven, who agreed to go to Wolcott Street to speak with police and admitted he'd not fed the dogs in a week, police said.
Shelter staff told police that they thought that was a gross understatement.
Cepeda claimed he couldn't take care of the dogs any longer and had brought the dogs to a veterinarian to have them euthanized, but the veterinarian refused so he had no choice but to abandon them, according to police.
Officer Stephani Johnson, the director of the Police Department's Animal Shelter, said both dogs are responding to their care, according to police.
Officer Johnson said the female is about 15 pounds under weight. She is expected to make a full recovery, but police said this type of neglect can adversely affect a dog's temperament.
The male, who is around one-quarter of his normal weight, was able to eat and gobbled up some cookies, police said.
Cepeda had claimed to police that he didn't feed the dog because he wouldn't eat, according to a news release. He was arrested and charged with two counts of animal cruelty.
Johnson said it’s too early to predict his prognosis. He was in worse shape than the female and is much older, but animal control officials and shelter staff are paying close attention to his therapy and feeding.