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Shelter officials seek justice following death of neglected dog

By NICOLE PITT

ROME, N.Y. (WKTV) - Volunteers and workers at the Humane Society of Rome are calling for "Justice for Lainey"

Sarah Starczewski is the Manager of Operations at the Humane Society of Rome. She says she was notified around noon on Saturday that Lainey had been found in a cage on Friday night at the end of a driveway on Babcock Road in Camden by an Oneida County Sheriff's Deputy and the Animal Control Officer in the Camden/Florence area. "They had seized a dog that was extremely emaciated, starving and dying," said Starczewski. "I then requested he meet me at the hospital so she could get immediate medical treatment."

The 4-year-old Australian Shepherd mix weighed just 15 pounds, she should have weighed at least 45. The veterinarian's report shows Lainey had a fever, unkept hair and she was covered with dirt and hay. Further examination revealed Lainey also suffered from tape worms.

In the examination room, Lainey was offered food and water, which she gulped down. The veterinarian made a diagnosis of 'severe neglect' and requested other testing for heartworm, tick borne illnesses and Parvo. The vet ordered 24 TLC care and a deworming medication.

Starczewski took Lainey home and cared for her 24 hours a day. "After we started giving her food she started to eliminate stones and grass, things that she had been eating to survive," said Starczewski.

Lainey survived for three days. She passed away Monday morning at 8:45 a.m., on her way to the Emergency Clinic.

Neglect like this does not happen overnight. "He didn't feed her for months. He didn't water her for months," said Starczewski. "That's not just something you see from a day or two. This isn't just a week or two this is months of walking past this dog."

Despite her condition, everyone that met Lainey said she was still a very friendly dog. "Even though she was starving and so weak, every time she saw you she would light up, she would pick her head up and try to wag her tail," said Starczewski.

"How can any human being do this to an animal," said Kim Strong, one of the volunteers who helped Lainey out. Strong is also a dog behavior specialist who works with animals at many local shelters. "I thought about this dog sitting in a fence, looking every day at her owner as he walks by her. I want him to understand and feel what he did to her and how as a human race we completely let this dog down."

Strong is no stranger to animal neglect. She currently is caring for three dogs, two of which suffered from starvation before they ended up in her home. Strong met Lainey over the weekend. "When I look at that dog, I see the horrors that she went through and the first thing she did when I met her was lick my hand. When I put her in my arms to carry her out of that vet, she rested her head on my shoulder. So a dog that had absolutely no reason in the world to trust human beings..trusted my shoulder and just melted into my arms. And when I sat her in her crate here into a warm bed and all these fluffy blankets that Josh had set up for her..she just rested for the first time."

Now all those who cared for Lainey can do is hope for justice. "How many dogs have to die before the people in power change the laws? Before people start prosecuting the crimes? Before the animal control officer will go every time? When is it going to stop?" asked Strong.

"It's our responsibility as humans to make sure that they are watching for these animals," said Starczewski. "We need to make sure that we have laws that cover animal cruelty. If we prosecute then people might actually be in fear of committing these crimes."

No charges have been filed in this case but it is under the investigation. Family members of the owner have contacted authorities saying they believe there are other animals inside the home. Starczewski says she's being told the person who lives on the property told officials Lainey is not his dog, but his ex's. "The owner and his ex are in some sort of battle. He says it was her dog, she says it was his and neither one of them took care of the dog."

You can follow this case by joining the facebook group called "Justice for Lainey"

Shelter officials stress that if you can not take care of your animal someone else can. Bring your animal to a local shelter if you are unable to provide it the care it needs.

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