Attorney General William Tong is seeking state custody of dozens of animals that were seized during an animal rescue in Hebron after a multi-state agency investigation last month.
Officials said Tong was trying to get state custody of 33 dogs, 28 cats, five ducks, three goats and a pony that were seized from CT Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue on March 25.
Tong’s petition also asks to require the owner of the animal shelter to identify all animals in their possession who are fostered with members of the public through the CT Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue, according to the AG’s office.
On March 23, a Department for Children and Families (DCF) investigator sought assistance during a site visit to find out that the owner, Joann Connelly, 59, had moved out and that a large number of animals had been left behind.
Connecticut State Police said they responded to the scene to help rescue the animals on Porter Road.
According to Connecticut State Police, during the on-site visit with several other agencies, conditions in the home were found to be deplorable and unsanitary, and an overwhelming sensation of urine and feces could be smelled from the exterior of the residence.
State police said observers could see numerous dogs in cages crammed throughout the house and basement. The floors throughout the house were also covered in urine and feces, police said.
Birds and cats were also found inside, and a pony, geese and goats were seen outside the house also in poor condition, police said.
State police arrested Joann Connelly, 59, after serving a warrant.
Connelly was charged with three counts of animal cruelty and was held on $10,000 bond. She is due in court on March 28.
According to state police, animal control previously visited Connelly’s home in February 2020, which revealed that only five dogs appeared to be in good shape.
In February 2021, complaints began and continued to come in regarding Connelly’s care of animals alleging neglect. Police said a locked gate was at the end of the driveway and several attempts were made to gain access to the house, but were unsuccessful.
Police said that despite numerous complaints received by State Animal Control, there was no substantial evidence to seek a search and seizure warrant.
Stonington, East Lyme, Waterford and East Hampton Animal Controls responded to the scene to assist.
According to a Facebook post, the animal rescue said it would no longer be active due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
The rescue said the shelter owner was overwhelmed by the number of animals she was trying to help.
“I feel sorry for everyone who tried to help in any way possible,” the rescue said.
The rescue asked for compassion, saying it just became more than she could handle.
According to Tong’s office, the animals that were recovered were found in varying conditions and one parakeet sized during the search died a week later. Seized animals are held in various animal control facilities where they receive proper care.
The state Department of Agriculture said it was an ongoing investigation.
DCF officials said they were unable to provide more information, but made this statement:
“Due to statutory privacy requirements under Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-28, Commerce is unable to comment on this issue.
The Department maintains collaborative relationships with community partners throughout the state, including law enforcement personnel.
Supporting families and protecting children takes diligent and persistent effort. Getting involved in helping a family can start by dialing 211 where community supports are available throughout Connecticut. Information and services for families seeking behavioral health services can be found at: www.connectingtocarect.org
A reasonable suspicion of child abuse can be made to the Child Abuse and Neglect Careline by calling 1-800-842-2288. The Careline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Helpline callers can remain anonymous.”