Case Snapshot
Case ID: 20038
Classification: Neglect / Abandonment
Animal: dog (pit-bull)
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Child or elder neglect
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Saturday, Jan 18, 2014

County: New London

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Sonya Smith

Case Updates: 3 update(s) available

D-bow, a 3-year-old male pit bull, died earlier this month of starvation and neglect, according to Norwich Animal Control Officer Donna Gremminger.

She found the dead dog Jan. 18 in a room in a Durfey Street apartment in Greeneville. "Eventually the dog lay down -- it was among huge piles of garbage -- and died," Gremminger said. "It was so sad. It was awful."

Gremminger charged Sonya Smith, 34, with cruelty to animals in D-bow's death and for leaving his decomposing body in the room he died in for about two weeks.

Smith is scheduled to appear Feb. 6 in Norwich Superior Court.

Smith, a mother of three boys, ages 12, 11 and 10, denied Wednesday that she let the dog starve.

She said D-bow didn't eat for about three days before he died, possibly after accidentally eating a Lego piece that might have gotten stuck in his throat.

"We fed him all the time. He was taken care of," she said. "Every day we gave him food and water."

She said she didn't notify authorities about D-bow's death because she intended to bury him herself but couldn't because the ground has been frozen.

"I honestly was emotionally freaked out," Smith said.

Gremminger said she investigated a complaint that there was a pit bull decomposing in a home.

"Initially (Smith) lied and stated she had given the dog away to a friend," Gremminger said. When Gremminger insisted she was going to look for herself, "She just broke down and said, yes, that's where the dog is," Gremminger said.

"The room was covered with urine stains and fecal deposits, and she said the reason was as the dog was getting weaker, it couldn't make its way downstairs to go out," Gremminger said.

Smith got D-bow around Halloween from a friend, she said, and was supposed to care for him only for a couple of weeks. But the friend didn't return.

"I know it was more taking on than I should have," Smith said.

She said D-bow was in poor health when he arrived at her house. "He had problems with his hips on the stairs," she said. Smith also said the dog wasn't trained not to relieve himself inside, requiring her and her children to clean up after him.

Smith said D-bow was well-behaved. "He was very good with me and the boys. He was even a little protective of us."

At one point, Gremminger said, D-bow, likely desperate for food, "was shredding open aluminum cans of food to eat. … It was eating cans of Crisco, beans and peas she had up there." D-bow had lacerations on his tongue and gums from biting down on the cans, Gremminger said.

Gremminger said Smith told her that she had no money and was feeding him leftovers from the soup kitchen.

"It really withered away to nothing," Gremminger said.

"There's nobody that knows us well enough to know all the facts," Smith said.

"I think it was severe, severe neglect," Gremminger said. "She saw the dog deteriorating over time and didn't do anything about it."

Gremminger also removed a pet kitten from Smith's apartment. She said if Smith is eventually put on probation, "hopefully they'll say she won't be allowed to have any more animals for a certain time."

Smith said the kitten, named Lucky, "was fat and happy" and is missed by her and her children.

"He was a life that should have been treated nicely and cared for," Gremminger said. "Unfortunately, he was neglected and died."

"I've never been in trouble in my whole life. This is really upsetting," Smith said.

Case Updates

A Norwich woman charged with neglect in the death of a pit bull is soon expected to face new charges related to her children.

Sonya Smith, 34, a mother of three, was arraigned Thursday in Norwich Superior Court on a charge of cruelty to animals, along with infractions claiming she failed to license and vaccinate the 3-year-old pit bull named D-bow and vaccinate a cat named Lucky.

Smith pleaded not guilty and was assigned a public defender to represent her. Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 5.

Smith was arrested on Jan. 18 after Norwich Animal Control Officer Donna Gremminger said last month that she found the pit bull's decomposing body in a room in Smith's home. D-bow, who may have died as long as two weeks earlier, starved to death, Gremminger said.

At Smith's court appearance, Assistant State's Attorney Christa Baker said she plans to add three charges of risk of injury to a minor.

Smith is the mother of three boys, ages 10, 11 and 12.

While cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of a year in prison, risk of injury is a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

In addition, Judge Thomas Moukawsher ordered Smith to contact the state Department of Children and Families and to cooperate with it as a condition of her release while awaiting trial.

The judge also ordered as a condition of Smith's release that "she have no pets of any kind."

Gremminger said she seized Smith's cat when she arrested her. It has since been adopted.

Smith is free on a written promise to appear in court, but Baker said she reserves the right to argue on March 5 for a higher bail.

What Smith is alleged to have done to D-bow "represents a threat to people, too," Moukawsher said.

According to Gremminger, Smith had told her children to lie to other people and say that she had given D-bow away.

Smith declined to say anything after her court appearance. She said last month that she took care of D-bow for a friend beginning around Halloween. Although she was supposed to have D-bow only a couple of weeks, the friend didn't return. Smith denied neglecting D-bow.
Source: Norwich Bulletin - Feb 8, 2014
Update posted on Apr 20, 2014 - 4:29AM 
A Norwich woman appeared in court this week in an animal cruelty case stemming from the discovery of the decomposing body of a dog amid squalor in a room at her Norwich apartment.

Norwich Animal Control Officer Donna Gremminger found the body of D-Bow, a 3-year-old pit bull mix, on Jan. 18 on an upper floor at the 6 Durfey St. apartment of 34-year-old Sonya Smith. Police were tipped off about possible animal abuse by an anonymous caller.

The dog appears to have starved to death, and amid the feces and dried puddles of urine in the room where the dog was contained were unopened cans of beans, corn and Crisco. The cans had been gnawed at as if the dog was desperate for food, police said. Examination of the dog revealed lacerations to its gums and tongue.

Smith told police she had been taking care of the dog for a friend since October and that her three juvenile children were responsible for feeding and taking the dog outside. The care of the dog was supposed to be temporary, but the friend never retrieved the dog. Police said the dog, which Smith said she had been feeding table scraps, was likely dead for several weeks.

Smith, according to police, said the dog's health had deteriorated over the last several months and was unable to make it outside.

Gremminger, in her report, noted that when removing the dog from the home, it was emaciated to the point that its spine, ribs and pelvic bone were visibly protruding from under its skin and decomposition had led to protrusion of internal organs.

The state Department of Children and Families was called in at the time of Smith's arrest and police say they expect additional criminal charges. Smith relinquished custody of a cat.

Smith, who appeared before a judge in Norwich Superior Court on Thursday, is free on a written promise to appear in court with conditions she not own a pet.

She is charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, two counts of failure to vaccinate and one count of failure to license a dog. She is due back in court on March 5.
Source: The Day - Feb 7, 2014
Update posted on Apr 20, 2014 - 4:25AM 
A Norwich woman was charged with cruelty to animals after police said she let her dog starve to death and then left his carcass in the apartment with her three children.

A dead dog was left in an upstairs apartment in at a house on Durfey Street for two weeks.

On Saturday, police arrested tenant, 34-year-old Sonya Smith, after a pit bull named D-Bow was found in a room in the attic starved to death. The dog's tongue was cut, after trying to gnaw open cans of food.

"It eventually came across a couple of cans of Crisco, beans, peas and it shredded open the aluminum tin cans," said Norwich animal control officer Donna Gremminger.

Gremminger described this case of cruelty as the worst she's seen in her nine years.

"She did admit that she did watch the dog deteriorate over the course of months to the point where the dog couldn't go downstairs anymore," Gremminger said.

Eyewitness News found similar cans strewn on the front yard. WFSB knocked on Smith's home, but no one answered.

According to police, Smith lives at the home with her three children ages 12, 11 and 10. The owner said she planned to bury the animal, but the ground was frozen.

Animal control seized their pet cat named Twisty. The cat was quickly adopted at the animal shelter.

Eyewitness News tried to contact Smith, but the station's calls were not returned. She will appear in Norwich Superior Court on Feb. 6.

Animal lovers had already heard about the tragic case when Eyewitness News visited an area dog park.

"She was caught in a tough situation," said David Fenwick, who owns three dogs. "She didn't have the means to provide for her family and her dog."
Source: WFSB- Jan 30, 2014
Update posted on Apr 20, 2014 - 4:24AM 


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