Heard: June 15, 2016.
received and sworn to in the Lynn Division of the District
Court Department on April 16, 2013.
case was heard by Cathleen E. Campbell, J.
M. Unger for the defendant.
A. Mallard, Assistant District Attorney (Katelyn M.
Giliberti, Assistant District Attorney, with him) for the
Present: Green, Rubin, & Sullivan, JJ.
defendant was convicted under the animal cruelty statute for
starving to death her dog, Arthur, a miniature dachshund. The
finding of guilt is affirmed, as is the condition of the
defendant's probation prohibiting her from owning
"any pet or animal of any kind." Under settled law,
however, the condition of probation requiring the defendant
to submit to suspicionless inspections of her home requires
modification for which that aspect of the case will be
recite the facts as they could have been found by the judge,
the fact finder in this bench trial, viewing the evidence and
all reasonable inferences therefrom in the light most
favorable to the Commonwealth.
night of January 23, 2013, the defendant brought Arthur to
the Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital in Woburn.
Arthur was nonresponsive and was brought immediately to the
treatment area for emergency care. He was seen by Christina
Valiant, an emergency care veterinarian.
Valiant found Arthur in an extremely emaciated condition. She
testified that he was "very, very, very thin"; that
"his bones were all visible through his skin"; and
that "he had no muscle mass." He had physical
indications of prolonged malnutrition: "a lot of the fur
was rubbed away from the left side of his body." Dr.
Valiant also testified that Arthur "had scabs over the
left side of his body where the fur had been rubbed away on
the left side of his rib cage, on his elbow, on his knee, ...
on [his] hip, " on the "tip of his tail, " and
on the "tip[s] of his ears." Dr. Valiant testified
that scabs and "pressure sores" come from
"laying on one particular part of the body and not
moving" because the "compression of the skin for a
long enough period of time" causes the skin "to
necrose or die" and "the sores result." The
sores and scabs on Arthur indicated that he "had been
laying on the left side of his body and not getting up and
moving around and keeping himself off of those areas." A
blood test showed that he was dehydrated.
Arthur arrived at the hospital he was "mostly dead"
and his vital signs were bleak: he was not moving at all,
"not breathing, " "unresponsive to stimuli,
" "cold to the touch, " and "barely"
had a heartbeat. Particularly concerning were his "fixed
[and] dilated pupils" and the absence of "a
palpable reflex" and a "corneal reflex, " the
latter absence being a sign of brain stem damage. Arthur had
no other "obvious abnormalities." An "oral
exam was normal" and there were no discernible
"abnormalities in his abdomen."
as Dr. Valiant saw Arthur's condition, she and the triage
nurse started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR); they tried
to revive him for about twenty minutes. In Dr. Valiant's
view at the time, "even if [she was] able to resuscitate
him and get him breathing again, " she "didn't
think that he was ever going to regain consciousness."
twenty minutes of CPR without response, the defendant
authorized euthanasia and Arthur was euthanized.
The defendant's statements at the hospital.
Dr. Valiant asked the defendant at the hospital what was
going on with Arthur and how long he had been as he was, she
claimed that he had "always been a thin dog, " and
that "she had noticed for the last week or so that he
had lost some more weight." The defendant also said he
"had been coughing for a week before" the visit.
She said that she had not "observed any vomiting,
diarrhea, or loose stools." She claimed that Arthur
"hadn't seemed quite right" the day before, and
that he "was just sort of laying there and staring . . .
off into [the] distance." She claimed that he "did
eat and drink a little the day before, " but that day
she "had been gone at work all day" and "when
she came home she found him just lying there." She
mentioned that she "had never brought [Arthur] to a
veterinarian." Dr. Valiant testified that ...