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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THANK YOU SO MUCH for caring for these poor babies!


This whole story is wonderful, it seems silly to find fault with any of it, such as renaming. That is a happy dog in the photo. I hope Cagney has a similarly good story before too long, but even now, being able to trust, and feel good is triumphant. My mom did not rename her dog when as a puppy Dolly came to her. It was her third home, and my mom thought that she'd keep the name. She is a Dolly. I took her over three years ago. It is true that they don't care that much about names, just that you want them to be near.


Who is Charlie?

Patricia Weems

Why do rescue groups do this....separate puppies, sending them to separate foster homes...these two went through enough. They should have found a foster to take both of them to be adopted together...


I am glad to hear that these dogs have been rescued and are so much more happy and healthy. As for the name changing, if some one adopts a pet, normally they do rename them. Dont think it harms the pet any. I have pets, a dog and cats. The oldest cats, now 11 and have had them since they where kittens, have had so many different nicknames, its unreal. I dont think they mind it any, as long as they are well taken care of, that is the main thing that is important. Hope that Cagney gets a wonderful new home too, and that horrible woman who had them at first has to spend some time in the slammer! Maybe she should go with out supper a while to see how she likes it!


We had 3 rescues until just about a week ago when one had to be Euthanized due to cancer and a burst spleen at age 13. Rescues take a bit of time to feel comfortable with their new digs, and their new humans, but once they do, they really don't care what you call them. I agree with an earlier comment, that they will respond to anything based upon your tone of voice and looking at your facial expression and gestures. People shouldn't worry about this trivial stuff. Go out and rescue a pet, give them love, get lots of love and joy in return. Nothing beats getting to share your home with 4 legged family members. They don't need IPhones, or Nikes or concert tickets. They just want you to give them some attention, make sure they get healthy nutritious food, plenty of fresh water, lots of walks outside and rides in your car, and of course ongoing well care from your veterinarian. You love your kids, and you love your pets. They all deserve the best you can give them, even when the best is different things. Your kids have nicknames, your pets can have many nicknames. They certainly aren't hung up about calling them Fred or Champ or YoYo or anything else, as long as you call them!


Dogs can be as smart as a 2-year old child plus they are quick to learn. So renaming Lacey to Frankie won't be as difficult, compared to being abused. It's better for Lacey to forget her past and move on trusting people.

Carroll Hall

Lovely, sweet pups. Hope the law prosecutes this woman abuser to the fullest sentence they can give her. Also make her pay monetarily for the upkeep and care that those pups have received.
Certainly hope she gets more than a slap on the wrist for being such a horrific person. Pray she DOES NOT have kids !! Thank God the pups were rescued when they were, else they would have surely died. Thanks ASPCA, for your care of animals.


Are people in the Northeast just plain cruel. Sounds like you have more incidents there than anywhere else. These people need to be treated like they treated their animals. Let them know the pain and hunger and cruelty.

sandra mattioli

What a wonderful ending to these puppies....a whole new life. What a terrible early life they endured. Please, the former owner needs to be punished, and never allowed to have any more of god's little creatures ever again. The look in the eyes of these now happy animals is of security and new found love....My blessing to the rescuers and adoptive parents...