A Connecticut woman is facing animal cruelty charges after her landlord discovered five dog carcasses in her home.
Heidi E. Lueders, 31, turned herself in to Fairfield police on Tuesday and was charged with five counts of animal cruelty, police said in a news release.
Police responded to Lueders’ home in November after her landlord noticed a strange odor coming from inside the home, only to find five dead dogs whose bodies were decomposing in their crates, Connecticut’s News 12 reports. Lueders was formerly the president of Bully Breed Rescue, Inc., a volunteer organization devoted to rescuing and finding new homes for bully dog breeds. Police believe that Lueders starved the dogs to death and left them in their cases for anywhere between two and 10 months, according to the outlet.
“The remains, for the most part, were just bones,” Lt. Robert Kalamaras told the Fairfield Citizen. “The conditions inside the home were pretty deplorable with dog feces throughout the entire house. The smell inside the place was pretty bad because of that and the state of decomposition of the animals’ bodies.”
Having obtained a search warrant, police removed the carcasses from the home, and issued a warrant for Lueders’ arrest later that month, police said. The Fairfield Police Detective Bureau began “coordinating the terms of her surrender” at that point, according to the police statement. Because they did not believe that she was a flight risk, they allowed her to attend to undisclosed personal issues before surrendering, police told News 12.
Chris Antolini, Bully Breed Rescue, Inc.’s vice president, confirmed in a statement on the organization’s website that the dogs that were found dead in Lueders’ home had been obtained through their program, according to the Fairfield Citizen. Lueders told the rest of the group that four of the dogs had been sent to live at a sanctuary while one had been sent to a foster family — a situation she claimed to be monitoring, according to Antolini.
“None of these dogs were known to be within the residence of Prince Street,” Antolini reportedly wrote. “At this time, all information we have has been provided to the police. We will continue cooperating with the investigation and anything that is needed to help find justice for our dogs.”
The organization’s website and social media pages have all been taken down.
In addition to five counts of animal cruelty, Lueders was also charged with causing criminal damage to her landlord’s property, police said in a statement. She was released from police custody after posting $50,000 bond and is due to appear in court on Jan. 29.
[Photo: Fairfield Police Department]
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