Police Investigate Evicted New Canaan Woman’s Reported Neglect, Abuse of Bird and Dog

A woman while being evicted from her New Canaan apartment for failure to pay rent appears to have kept a bird and dog inside the unit for several days at a time without contacting or arranging for the care of the animals, records show.

Police working to ensure the animals’ welfare observed that a cockatiel-type bird appeared to have been left on its own for a full week in mid- to late-July with limited seed and water that had run out while its owner—tenant Juliana Weitz—was away, according to a New Canaan Police Department incident reports obtained by NewCanaanite.com through a Freedom of Information request.

According to the property’s owner, a black poodle also had been left on its own in a crate in the bathroom for four days once before, the police reports said. During the investigation, while checking on the welfare of the bird, the head of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section spotted the dog through the door of the apartment, wearing a black Velcro-type muzzle that appeared to prevent the animal from taking in water, panting or yawning. Subsequently, the property’s owner told authorities that Weitz left her apartment “for long periods of time, leaving the dog in the apartment and that the dog has begun howling,” according to a report from Officer Allyson Halm, head of Animal Control.

The police launched an investigation in mid-June, though separate eviction proceedings filed in state Superior Court already had started.

The owner of a 2-story multifamily home on Strawberry Hill Road on May 26 began eviction proceedings against Weitz, according to a complaint on file with the Connecticut Judicial Branch. Weitz—whose lease had commenced in April and who failed to pay the $1,750 monthly rent starting in May, according to the complaint—already had been evicted by the Greenwich Housing Authority, according to a separate lawsuit she filed against that agency.

At about 10:40 a.m. on June 14—a Wednesday—Halm was dispatched to the Strawberry Hill Road dwelling on a report of a bird left in an apartment. Together with Lt. Jason Milligan and other officers responding to the home, Halm could see the bird through a front door window in plain view, with seed and water in containers attached to the cage, the report said.

A neighbor the following Monday reported to police that no one had been in the apartment since that prior Wednesday, the report said. Halm and others went to the apartment that day and noted that “the seed container had almost no seed in it and there was no visible sign of water,” the report said.

The property’s owner arrived and told police she believed that a dog had been left in a crate in the bathroom for four days before “and that no one has been to the apartment to care for the bird,” the report said.

Halm then contacted Weitz to advise her about the conditions for the bird and Weitz responded “that she left ample food for the bird which was on the bottom of the cage and that she would be returning to her residence” the following morning (Tuesday, June 20). Yet Weitz hadn’t arrived at the apartment that morning by 11:15 a.m., according to Halm’s report, and the bird’s conditions remain unchanged during another visit by police after 2 p.m. that day.

Finally, officers did make contact with Weitz (her voicemail box was full), who said she never agreed to meet police that morning and that she had been delayed in returning and would be back that same evening, the report said.

“Weitz related during the conversation that the bird was fine,” Halm wrote in the report.

The next day, Halm went to the property and saw that the bird had fresh seed and water in its cage but also noted “a small black poodle type dog came to the door and attempted to bark, at which time I observed the dog to have what appeared to be a Velcro type muzzle around its mouth,” the report said. “It appeared the dog would not be able to take in water, pant or yawn.”

Halm that afternoon contacted Weitz who “related that the dog was high strung and could be a barker,” by way of explaining the muzzle, according to the report.

“I then suggested that the dog could not pant or drink water and should not be left alone for hours like that,” Halm said. “Weitz further related that the dog could pant and drink water with the muzzle on. At that time Weitz was unable to continue the conversation, at which time I advised I would follow up.”

Police then learned from a neighbor that the dog would be left on its own with the muzzle on for extended periods of time, the report said, and expressed concerns about the practice to Weitz.

“Upon interview Weitz related that the muzzle she puts on the dog is a training tool and she has researched Connecticut laws and there is nothing illegal about using a muzzle,” the report said. “I asked Weitz how long the dog remained alone with a muzzle on Thursday [June 23], at which time Weitz related four and a half hours. I voiced my concerns about the dog being able to drink water and pant. Weitz believed the dog could drink water and that the dog does not wear the muzzle all the time.”

Halm asked Weitz about licensing the dog, asking for a rabies certificate, the report said.

“Weitz indicted he would be leaving the state soon, at which time I agreed to provide Weitz with a temporary license, when she provided me with [proof of] current rabies vaccine,” it said.

They agreed to connect the following Monday, June 26. Yet Weitz became difficult to track down.

Finally, on July 5, Halm left a voicemail for Weitz to contact Animal Control and the next day left a notice at the Strawberry Hill Road apartment after trying to reach her there, the report said.

The next week, Halm said, she received a faxed copy of a current rabies vaccine for a poodle named ‘Roman,’ though the certificate itself was dated July 8.

Asked about licensing her dog with the town, Weitz told police that she was leaving the state, according to the report, but on July 19 Halm went to the Strawberry Hill Road apartment and spotted “several folded boxes outside the premises” and after knocking on the door, heard a dog barking.

Weitz came to the door and Halm said she was “there to verify that she had left the premises,” as Weitz herself had indicated earlier, the report said, but the woman apparently walked back into the home without saying more.

Two days later, on July 21, Halm received a neighbor’s voicemail saying that Weitz had left the apartment I the morning but that the pets remained there. Weitz then returned to the apartment several hours later, in the afternoon, the report said. It wasn’t clear whether the animals were still there.

On July 25, Halm learned that Weitz was still in the apartment and that the dog started howling as it had been left alone for long periods of time, the report said.

According to Judicial Branch records, Judge Eddie Rodriguez signed an order saying that Weitz by 10 a.m. on July 31 had to be out of the apartment.

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