Rescued from Abuse, Two Starved Puppies Recover

Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 11:45am

Lacey, before and after receiving treatment at the ASPCA Animal Hospital

When ASPCA Special Agent Ann Kelly brought hound mix puppies Cagney and Lacey to the ASPCA Animal Hospital on February 17, the two were so skinny that their bones were visible from across the room.

The dogs’ owner, Gillian Irving, relinquished them to the ASPCA after Agent Kelly visited her home in the Norwood section of the Bronx. In April, Agent Kelly arrested Irving, who was charged with two counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty. (If convicted, Irving faces up to two years in jail and/or a $2,000 fine.)

Meanwhile, under the care of our veterinary professionals, the frightened dogs put on weight quickly: Cagney went from 16.4 to 27.1 pounds, and Lacey from 15.2 to 26.9, in the months leading up to Irving’s arrest.

As these shy puppies gained weight, they also made new friends among ASPCA staff and learned that new people weren’t so scary after all. At first, the dogs “would cower to the ground when they were removed from their kennels,” recalls ASPCA Senior Behavior and Training Manager Victoria Wells. “Once the vets gave the medical okay, they were paired up with each other and more confident dogs for play sessions and walks to expose them to new people and places. They slowly began to overcome their fear.”

They even made a special friend in Kim Danley, a licensed veterinary technician. When the dogs were ready to move to foster homes, Danley brought Lacey to the home she shared with her Rottweiler and ASPCA-alumnus cat, while Cagney went to another foster home.

As Danley invested lots of time in teaching Lacey that new people and places were exciting, not scary, Lacey became an irreplaceable member of the family. When Lacey was made available for adoption, Danley decided to make it official. She filled out the paperwork and renamed her Frankie.

Since then, the Danley family has moved to California, where Frankie loves running on the beach, sunbathing on her deck and taking boat rides. Danley reports that “now she’s the happiest dog in the world. She and Charlie sleep curled up with each other every night. She’s not afraid of a thing.”

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It's my personal opinion that renaming these poor animals is not a good practice. It's enough that they have to learn to trust people (learning what's expected of them, etc.) Why add the confusing burden of changing it's name?


I believe that renaming animals is good for them and the adopting person. Renaming them is part of starting a new life. Introduce the name along with their old name and soon they will recognize the new name as theirs.

Vysta A Owen

What happened to the awful people that did this?

Diane Klein

I am so touched my this story. It was so hard to hold back the tears. I hope that woman gets the full punishment. I just can't get it WHY people can be so cruel. But as I read the rest I had a smile on my face. The end reslults are so precious and that dog is so handsome and happy. Thank you for all that your organizaton does to help.


If the dog was removed from an abusive situation their name very likely has a negative connotation for the dog - Giving them a new name gets rid of the anxiety the old name more than likely invokes - Names are personal -renaming helps make the new dog a part of the family. A dog doesn't really care what he's called - - - as long as he's called with love.

Barb Taylor

Thank God for the ASPCA!


There are thousands of stray dogs (and cats) that end up with new names. They thrive and flourish from their new lives not just their name.

Nancy Peavy

Our cats all have several different names and over time they develop new names such as our cat Willow who now is called Poptart by my husband and Girlie by me. They learn the new names and the main thing they understand is the loving voice. Animals are highly adaptable and I think understand the playfulness of nicknames.

Mike McGowan

I wish they would expose the address of people like this peice of garbage gillian- in this situation so TRUE retrubitation might be delivered to this "person" and these (or any other) poor animals would NEVER have to worry about this EVER happening again. Of course this is just a hypothetical random thought since justice could be too blind and not smite this person with the god's furious wrath


The above poster has it right. This of this way, someone teachs a dog to sit using a certain word and the word is always accompanied by a beating. The dog learns to sit but also to expect a beating. You come along and teach the do to sit using a new word and praise and love and the dog learns to sit and expect a happy reward. The dog also still associates the old word with the abuse.

Pavlov's insight ;)