By Beth David, Editor
Two Fairhaven residents were arraigned in New Bedford Third District Court on 11/30/18 on animal cruelty charges due to the emaciated state of a pit bull that they owned. Todd Michael Sylvia and Michelle L. Ventura, both of 417 Huttleston Ave., Fairhaven, were charged after police were called to the residence by a concerned neighbor. The dog was unable to recover from her condition and was euthanized.
Fairhaven Animal Control Officer Terry Cripps visited the home on 10/8/18 and 10/9/18, accompanied by a police officer both times.
According to court documents prepared by Sgt. Daniel Dorgan, the dog, a female pit bull named Chyna, was “emaciated and visibly shaking.”
On the 9th, the dog was removed from the home and taken to New England Animal Hospital in Fairhaven, where she weighed in at 28 pounds. Records at NEAH showed that Chyna was seven years old and had weighed 45 pounds in 2013.
“Needless to say, this did not happen overnight,” wrote Nicholas Dagenais, DVM.
According to the police report, Mr. Sylvia went to NEAH to retrieve his dog, but was refused. He left without incident.
“Sylvia would never be seen or heard from although requested throughout the remainder of this incident,” wrote Sgt. Dorgan.
Court documents show that Ms. Ventura did speak with police on several occasions. She told police that the dog had been sick and was not able to keep food down. She stated that the dog got two small meals a day and always had water in the dish, although police noted that the water dish was empty when they visited.
In a conversation at the police station with Sgt. Dorgan and ACO Cripps, Ms. Ventura admitted to “poor judgement” in not taking the dog to the veterinarian.
She was informed that the dog was being treated for malnourishment and had tested positive for Lyme Disease, which increased her risk for kidney disease.
On October 12, Mr. Cripps told Sgt. Dorgan that Chyna’s results showed she was in kidney failure and that her prognosis was not good.
Sgt. Dorgan visited the dog at NEAH and noted in his report that the technician stated Chyna was receiving IV fluids, and she had been eating and had not vomited. Sgt. Dorgan said the dog had seemed in good spirits, and no longer seemed timid.
On October 14, Mr. Cripps notified Sgt. Dorgan that Chyna’s health had “drastically declined,” and she was in “complete kidney failure.” The doctor advised that the dog should be euthanized as soon as possible, “as anything else would be cruel to her.”
Ms. Ventura went to the station to sign the consent form, and Chyna was euthanized on 10/16/18.
At the arraignment and bail hearing, Assistant District Attorney Olivia Cataldo told the court that Ms. Ventura was very cooperative with the investigation, but that Mr. Sylvia was not. She asked for $5,000 cash bail for both, “due to the severity of case,” and citing prior arrests by Mr. Sylvia.
Ms. Ventura’s attorney, C. Lipou Laliemthavisay, called it “extremely excessive.” She said both are on public assistance and are taking care of four children in the household.
Judge James McGovern released both on personal recognizance, with restrictions, including that they may not possess animals for the duration of the case. He cautioned them not to get arrested or they could be held without bail until the end of the case.
They are due back in court on 2/8/19 for a pretrial hearing.
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