HEBRON, Conn. (WTNH) – Connecticut State Police have released new details about the animal cruelty case in Hebron that led to the seizure of over 70 animals, revealing the horrible conditions in both words and photos.
The woman charged with animal cruelty will be at Rockville Superior Court in Vernon on Monday.
According to the source with knowledge of the case, 33 dogs, 28 cats, three goats, one pony, five ducks and a parakeet were seized from a home on Porter Road.
Joann Connelly, 59, of Hebron, was arrested and charged with three counts of animal cruelty.
News 8 was told multiple agencies were on scene, including the Department of Children and Families, for a 17-year-old that was involved.
DCF issued a statement to News 8, saying in part:
“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.”
Connecticut State Police have now painted a picture of what was happening in the home that was listed as CT Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue. According to Facebook posts, the rescue was overwhelmed with animals. The rescue said Friday in a Facebook post that the organization will no longer be active.
The joint investigation reveals 59-year-old Joann Connelly ran this organization and was previously searched by animal control in 2020. Though the initial search reported this location to be “dirty”, it wasn’t dirty enough to alarm the health department.
Several incidents with animals occurred afterwards that led to this investigation.
A welfare check of a dog was filed in Feb. 2021, though the officer at the time could not get into the home.
In July 2021, Ocean State Veterinarian Services in Rhode Island alerted the Connecticut Department of Agriculture Animal Control unit concerning Connelly and three dogs. According to the alert, she had brought three puppies to the hospital who appeared to have distemper. The vet told Connelly to euthanize them, as they were suffering and would likely not survive. She refused at first, but then euthanized two and turned to holistic care for the third.
As CT Animal Control investigated, they discovered two other puppies from the same litter had been euthanized at Bolton Vet prior. She was issued infractions for failure to notify of an adoption event and was warned for not vetting the animals properly.
In Sept. 2021, an officer received a complaint about neglect on Connelly’s part. The complaint stated, “Connelly possessed an excessive (over 25) dogs at her house” that were living in unclean, cramped conditions. Once again, officers were unable to access the home.
On Monday, DCF contacted animal control officers, alerting them that Connelly had moved from her home in Hebron and left a large number of animals behind.
Finally, on Wednesday, investigators were able to get in touch with Connelly and get access into the home. Upon arrival, they were immediately greeted by a loose dog. An overwhelming stench of urine and feces was reported coming from the home.
Once inside the premises, 12 dogs were immediately discovered in cages. Photos show some dogs sharing cages, leaving very little space for the animals. There were 17 dogs in the second room and five dogs in the basement. Some dogs were also let loose throughout the house.
The floors were covered in urine and feces, newspaper clippings, dog food, animal hair, and dirt. One floor was even covered in insulation and sheet rock.
The back room in the basement had 14 cats in cages with excrement everywhere as well as kitty litter. There were also three loose cats within the house.
There were two parakeets in a cage in a bedroom that was filled with bird waste. Outside of the home was a pony, goats, and geese in shared living quarters containing nearly three feet of manure and hay. The waste was so high that it blocked the entrance for the animals and they had to climb over.
According to one officer, the smell was so bad that he had trouble breathing even with an N-95 respirator. Air quality was less than poor. It was reportedly difficult to move around without collecting filth on clothes.
Neighbors say they had no idea what was going on.
“We’ve heard like maybe one dog bark on occasion,” said Heather Campbell of Hebron. “We knew there was a horse over there, you know, you can kind of see it from the road, but I never would have imagined that there’s a lot of animals over there or anything like that.”
Another neighbor, Sara Nilsen, explained that it’s “really sad to think of the animals living in those conditions,” noting that they’ve heard dogs in the past, thinking there were more than a couple.
“I think everybody in this whole neighborhood knew it was bad, but they didn’t know it was that bad,” another neighbor said, calling the conditions “deplorable.”
Connelly is being held on a $10,000 bond and will appear in court on Monday
News 8 will provide updates as they become available.