The head of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section is thanking dozens of local volunteers and businesses that donated time, energy, goods and services to ensure the health and comfort of 12 neglected dogs seized in November from a Butler Lane home. Following a lengthy court dispute with the dogs’ former owner—a woman who still faces three counts of felony cruelty to animals in an ongoing criminal case—the town on Jan. 20 was awarded full legal custody of the 10 puppies and two adults dogs. A 20-day appeal period expired Feb. 10, Officer Allyson Halm said, and the puppies became “free and clear” to be placed “in safe places.”
“I am decompressing slowly,” Halm told NewCanaanite.com.
A state Superior Court judge on Wednesday granted full legal custody of 12 neglected dogs seized in November from a Butler Lane home. In a 31-page decision that reviewed many of the details that led to the Nov. 29 arrest of Catherine Palmer on multiple counts of animal cruelty, Judge Kenneth B. Povodator said the conditions in which the dogs lived—“with feces and urine on the walls and floor”—and circumstances of the deaths at the residence of three puppies amounts to animal cruelty under state law. “There were too many dogs—especially given that many were transient in nature—and far too little structured care and supervision (including inadequate instructions as to what to do in the event of foreseeable problems); unsanitary conditions for tenants and dogs; inadequate attention to the grooming and medical needs of the animals as evidenced by a number of (if not especially dangerous) conditions discovered during the post-seizure exams; a somewhat cavalier attitude about the first dog to die in September (no apparent concern as to why, or whether that cause might pose a threat to other dogs),” Povodator wrote in the decision.
“The second dog to die may have been (plausibly) described as handled acceptably, but there was no attempt even to verify that the third dog also had Parvo or its prognosis, instead simply directing that the third dog be given the medicine that had been prescribed for the second dog’s diagnosed condition (Parvo)—and implicitly, see what happens.”
He added, “The pattern cannot be ignored; a persistent lack of any program or system to ensure proper care of a somewhat rotating inventory of puppies (plus 2 more permanent pet-residents), instead relying on informal arrangements with tenants; rare presence on the premises both for actual care and monitoring of care being provided by others; and a woefully inadequate response to the events in September. There was a brief effort to supplement cleaning—but when [a cleaner] quit as a result of the September dog deaths and prevailing conditions, no one appears to have been hired to replace her.
Police on Saturday responded to a complaint of a landlord-tenant dispute at the Butler Lane home where the neglect of dogs, and subsequent deaths of three puppies, became part of a criminal investigation that led to felony criminal charges for a 48-year-old woman. The dispute at 151 Butler Lane involved parking and locks on the doors, according to New Canaan Police. Tenants at the “South of the Y” neighborhood home, whose testimony helped police secure an arrest warrant charging Catherine Palmer with three counts of cruelty to animals, also are central in an ongoing custody dispute for 12 seized dogs.
A state Superior Court judge on Dec. 7 granted the town of New Canaan temporary custody of the dogs. The next hearing in the town’s petition for full legal custody is scheduled for Jan.
Saying the owner of 12 dogs seized by police last month has been neglectful in caring for the animals, a state Superior Court judge on Monday awarded temporary custody to the town. In petitioning the court for ownership, the town through remote hearings demonstrated “multiple aspects of neglect and disregard for the welfare of the animals” by 48-year-old Catherine Palmer, Judge Kenneth B. Povodator wrote in his decision.
“To varying degrees, the animals were deprived of adequate veterinary care, assurance of adequate and proper food, and cleanliness of environment and their bodies, with no basis to suggest that these were isolated instances,” Povodator wrote in his conclusion. “The plaintiff has established neglect.”
A final hearing on the custody of the 10 small-breed puppies and two adult dogs is scheduled for Dec. 18. Palmer, in a related though separate criminal case, has been charged with three counts of animal cruelty connected to the deaths in September of three puppies at 151 Butler Lane.
Authorities in removing 12 neglected dogs from a New Canaan home on a Tuesday morning last month found feces matted to some of the animals’ bodies, police records show. Some of the 10 puppies that local and state officials found in Catherine Palmer’s Butler Lane home on Nov. 17 appeared to be just a few days old, and the type of dry kibble made for newborns wasn’t available to them, according to New Canaan Police Department incident reports.
There on a search-and-seizure warrant after a months-long investigation found that three puppies at the house had died, police found feces on the floor in the area of the kitchen where the animals were corralled, according to photographs submitted as part of a petition to transfer custody of the dogs to the town. Through a tenant in the home, Mark Harris, NCPD Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm spoke on the phone with Palmer while in the house. “I advised Palmer why we were in the house and that an arrest warrant had been issued for her relating to the deaths of three puppies,” Halm said in her incident report.
“I further advised she should respond to the residence if she wanted to discuss the matter further.