NEW BRITAIN - A judge agreed Monday to give the city custody of 19 dogs taken from the home of a Fairview Street woman after one of them, a bulldog, attacked four people, including her two children.
Officers were called to 62 Fairview St., home of Jessica DePaolis, on Oct. 23 after receiving calls reporting that a bulldog was attacking people and other dogs.
Officers found four people injured including DePaolis’ two children, ages 7 and 13, her aunt and a neighbor who was trying to help.
Her 7-year-old son’s injuries were so severe that he needed surgery, police said.
A Chihuahua that had recently given birth to three puppies was killed by the bulldog, police said.
Officers found 19 dogs, including the male bulldog, which had gone on his rampage while DePaolis wasn’t home.
The dogs were living in what were described as squalid conditions, with feces and urine on the floor and in their cages. All had fleas, and some had other medical issues. One dog was emaciated, police said.
The Chihuahua that was killed was the mother of three puppies, which were two weeks old.
DePaolis had nine Chihuahua puppies of varying ages, five adult bulldogs and six adult Chihuahuas.
The puppies that had lost their mother were given immediately to Monkey Pack Rescue, where they had to be bottle-fed every few hours, said Police Sgt. Paula Keller, who heads the city’s Animal Control Division.
The other six puppies and two of the adult Chihuahuas were also placed with the rescue organization, which is working on getting them vaccinated and spayed or neutered before they are placed in good homes.
The dogs were seized that day and Keller sought to have to have the city permanently take custody of them by filing for ownership in New Britain Superior Court.
DePaolis told Judge Robert Young Monday that she had been overwhelmed by having so many dogs, but had tried to take care of them properly. “I don’t believe I was neglectful at all,” she said.
Young called the situation “abhorrent” and said he was stunned by her “lack of self-awareness.”
“They were neglected, treated cruelly and they are not to be returned” to DePaolis’ custody, Young said.
The judge also ordered DePaolis to pay the city $15 per dog per day, for their care from Oct. 23 until Monday. She was also ordered to pay the dogs’s medical bills.
DePaolis will be facing criminal charges, police said.
She was led from the courthouse in handcuffs after being charged with not paying a fine connected to a ticket she received in March, when she was cited for self-vaccinating her dogs, which is illegal in Connecticut.
Two of the bulldogs have adoptions pending and two with health issues will be going to bulldog rescue organizations, Keller said.
Lisa Backus can be reached at 860-801-5066 or Lbackus@centralctcommunications.com.