ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. — The owner of a dog that died earlier this week from starvation is now facing charges.
Ian West, 25, was arrested by the sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Unit on a felony charge of aggravated cruelty to animals. His dog, Lainey, was rescued on Friday from his home in Camden. Officials say the dog was left outside without food or water for months.
Lainey was an Australian shepherd mix, a breed which normally weighs about 45-50 pounds. But when she was found, they say she only weighed 15 pounds and was so weak, she could barely stand.
Two Rottweiler mix puppies were also taken from the home.
West was arraigned in the Town of Camden Court and is being held on $5,000 bail.
Rome Humane Society officials say they take in at least one abused animal a month. Some who have been beaten, others neglected. But this past weekend, workers at the Humane Society say they saw one of their saddest cases yet, when an extremely emaciated dog came through their door and died from her injuries. Our Cara Thomas tells us Lainey’s story and what local animal lovers are doing to make sure the abuser is brought to justice.
ONEIDA COUNTY, N.Y. –“Lainey was pure, unadulterated love with everything she was going through, she always wanted to lick your hand and cuddle in your arms,” said Kim Strong, an animal behaviorist and trainer.
Abused and neglected, Lainey, an Australian shepherd mix, was found last Friday at a home on Babcock Road in Camden. She was without food, without water and was only skin and bones.
Rome Humane Society’s Director Sarah Starczewski said, “You could put with one hand, your whole hand would fit finger to finger around her neck and around her stomach and waist area.”
Rescued by an Oneida County Sheriff’s deputy and the Camden dog control officer, officials say she was so weak she couldn’t even hold up her head. People involved in Lainey’s rescue believe she had been starved for months.
“He would get out of his truck every day and walk past Lainey to get into his home knowing that this dog was starving. Crying, Lainey eating stones and grass to try to survive. He was very aware of what was going on with her,” said Starczewski.
They took Lainey to the veterinarian, put her on a very strict diet and provided around the clock care, but that wasn’t enough. On Monday morning, Lainey died from starvation.
“It wasn’t her time to go. She was forced onto the rainbow bridge because nobody cared enough to stop this man,” says Strong.
The people involved in Lainey’s rescue say their biggest worry is that her abuser may get away with it as animal cruelty laws aren’t as simple as some may think.
Strong explains, “The laws are a part of the Department of Agriculture. They’re extremely confusing and most people aren’t trained in them. We don’t have an Oneida County animal control officer.”
Animal advocates say it’s time for social change. They say animal cruelty laws aren’t on the animal’s side and normally these cases are pushed under the rug. So they’re reaching out to local legislators hoping to change these laws for the better.
“We need to be fighting in her name. There needs to be a Lainey’s Law so this never happens again,” said Strong.
Officials from the Oneida County Sheriff’s office say animal cruelty charges are currently pending.
A Justice for Lainey Facebook Page has been set up.
Monday was Lainey’s Day for Humane Society
Animal rights advocates in Oneida County are starting a new push for tougher laws against animal abuse. YNN’s Andrew Sorensen tells us the story of one dog who inspired thousands of people to stand up for the cause.
ROME, N.Y. — Everything from the flowers to the candles is technically for Lainey.
“They’re supposed to show Lainey that we’re all standing here for her,” said advocate Kim Strong.
“Today we’re honoring a life cut short. Lainey’s Day,” Humane Society of Rome Operations Manager Sarah Starczewski said.
“Lainey’s story is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Strong.
Strong has taken in abused dogs before. Her dog, Sapphir,e was starved down to 19 pounds before she took him in. But this one was different.
“That kind of gentleness out of a dog that was tortured for so long broke the camel’s back for me,” she said. Lainey was found in Camden on May 17th. “I have not to date seen a dog that was starved to that point,” said Starczewski. She ended up with Starczewski at the Humane Society of Rome.
“When she would go outside, because she would want to go outside to go to the bathroom, she had to be held by someone underneath so she could actually walk without falling over,” Starczewski said.
Lainey died and her owner was charged with felony animal cruelty. But Starczewski said too often, those charges don’t stick. “It shouldn’t be okay or even looked over to do what you did to an animal and just get a slap on the wrist,” she said.
So Lainey’s death sparked a new flame. “I decided to tell her story to Facebook and we got so many people that care. Because the story was real and it’s unconscionable,” said Strong.
“Now we have over 3,000 people that are supporting this,” Starczewski explained. They’re starting with a memorial and an award to honor Lainey and rescuers. “The candles are supposed to light the way for change,” Strong said.
Strong also said she doesn’t think that alone will change people who do these kinds of things. “No. But it’s a beginning,” she said. Their ultimate goal is stiffer felony penalties to make sure those people are held accountable.
The Humane Society of Rome says they plan to give out the award on a regular basis to someone who has been a hero or a guardian to animals in the community.