AG Tong Seeks State Custody of Dozens of Animals Seized During Investigation at Rescue in Hebron

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Attorney General William Tong is seeking state custody of dozens of animals that were seized from an animal rescue in Hebron after a multi-state agency investigation last month.

Officials said Tong is trying to get state custody of 33 dogs, 28 cats, five ducks, three goats and a pony that were seized from the CT Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue on March 25.

Tong's petition is also asking to require the animal rescue's owner to identify any and all animals in their possession that are being fostered with members of the public through the CT Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue, according to the AG's office.

On March 23, a Department of Children and Families (DCF) investigator requested assistance during a site visit for information that the owner, 59-year-old Joann Connelly moved and a large number of animals had been left behind.

Connecticut State Police said they responded to the scene to help the animal rescue on Porter Road.

According to Connecticut State Police, during the site visit with several other agencies, the conditions in the home were found to be deplorable and unsanitary, and an overwhelming sense of urine and feces could be smelled from the outside of the residence.

State police said observers could see numerous dogs in cages crammed throughout the house and basement. The floors throughout the home were covered in urine and feces as well, police stated.

Birds and cats were also found inside, and a pony, geese and goats were seen outside of the home also in poor conditions, police said.

State police arrested 59-year-old Joann Connelly after serving an arrest warrant.

Connelly was charged with three counts of cruelty to animals and was held on a $10,000 bond. She is scheduled to appear in court on March 28.

According to state police, animal control has been to Connelly's house before in February 2020, which revealed only five dogs appeared to be in good shape.

In February 2021, complaints began and continued to come in regarding Connelly's care of the animals stating allegations of neglect. Police said a locked gate was at the end of the driveway and several attempts were made to access the home but were unsuccessful.

Police stated, despite the numerous complaints received by State Animal Control, there was no substantive evidence to apply for a search and seizure warrant.

Stonington, East Lyme, Waterford and East Hampton animal controls responded to the scene to assist.

According to a post of Facebook, the animal rescue said they'll no longer be active because of "unforeseen circumstances."

The rescue said the owner of the shelter became overwhelmed with the number of animals she was trying to help.

"I'm sorry to all those who tried to help in every way they could," the rescue said.

The rescue asked for compassion, saying it just became more than she could handle.

According to Tong's office, the animals that were recovered were found in varying conditions and one parakeet sized during the search died a week later. The animals that were seized are being held at various animal control facilities where they are receiving the proper care.

The state Department of Agriculture said this is an ongoing investigation.

DCF officials said they're unable to provide further information, but gave this statement:

"Due to the statutory requirements of confidentiality under Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-28, the Department is unable to comment on this matter.

The Department maintains collaborative relationships with community partners across the state including Law Enforcement personnel.

Supporting families and protecting children takes diligent and persistent efforts. Engaging in assistance for a family can begin by dialing 211 where community based supports are available throughout Connecticut. Information and services for families seeking behavioral health services can be accessed at: www.connectingtocarect.org

A reasonable suspicion of child maltreatment can be made to the Child Abuse and Neglect Careline by dialing 1-800-842-2288. The Careline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Callers to the Careline can remain anonymous."

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