IAN LORD, St. Albans Messenger
“All indications suggest that the puppies have been left unattended and poorly cared for.”
ST. ALBANS — St. Albans Police arrested a city man Tuesday afternoon after finding several dogs abandoned and neglected in an apartment during the past weekend.
Police arrested Eric S. Curtis, 36, around 4 p.m., according to a police report released this morning. Curtis was charged with seven counts of animal cruelty. He was scheduled to appear in court at 11 a.m. today.
Six dogs were rescued from Curtis’ seemingly abandoned North Main Street apartment on Saturday, according to a police statement released earlier this week.
According to the initial police report, officers responded to a barking dog complaint at Curtis’s apartment around 6:30 p.m. Upon arrival, the responding officers received a second complaint that there were abandoned and uncared animals inside the unit.
Police applied for and obtained a search warrant for the apartment and located and rescued four mixed-breed dogs and two seven-month-old puppies.
Police said Curtis was not living at the apartment and “all indications suggest that the puppies have been left unattended and poorly cared for.”
An acquaintance of Curtis had removed two additional mixed-breed puppies before the ensuing investigation, according to police.
All six animals — a male adult, a female adult, and two male and two female puppies — were reported to be in varying degrees of poor health. Police said the dogs were found in mild to severe levels of emaciation. All six animals were taken to the Franklin County Humane Society and treated by a veterinarian there, said police.
According to St. Albans City Police Chief Gary Taylor, the City’s health officer previously had investigated the situation in the apartment. Taylor said police, prior to the most recent complaints, had contacted Curtis, who advised the pets were being watched after by an acquaintance.
During an inspection two weeks ago, Taylor said a responding police officer assisting the health officer found the dogs to be in adequate health and that they had clean water and food available.
Taylor said there were eight total dogs — the two adults, and six puppies — at the residence at the time of that inspection. The two remaining puppies are unaccounted for, Taylor said, but he suspects Curtis gave them away or sold them.
Since the last inspection, however, Taylor said the situation appeared to have “digressed,” leading to the animal cruelty charges.
“We were already maintaining that situation,” Taylor said.
Rusty Posner of the Humane Society said the physical ailments of the neglected animals came from obvious lack of necessities — no food or water and a failure to provide a clean living environment. Losing interaction with a human, she said, is also greatly detrimental to dogs.
“A dog needs a person,” Posner said. “It’s unacceptable [to abandon pets].”
Posner said the dogs were highly emaciated when they arrived at the Humane Society and carried an “unbelievable” smell of urine — a sign of long-term abandonment. The puppies especially, Posner said, were very underdeveloped. She pointed out the lack of muscle in two of the puppies’ hips.
Often working with local law enforcement and animal control officers, the Humane Society sees many animals coming from homes of abuse and neglect, Posner said.
Posner said Humane Society staff members has to limit the amount of food and medicine it gives to dogs after going unattended and unfed for a long time.
“Their immune systems and functions are not developed,” Posner said.