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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Paola Ballanti

Respect for animals !


Im always lifted in my heart and mind when I see their are goooood people in this world who go the distance to sacrifice their time and love and money, to benefit another living being whether human or animal, two thumbs way up, thanks for the smile :)


After reading several comments, I agree that changing the animal's name might be beneficial. I hadn't looked at it that way before. As the animal learns his new name, he would come to associate it with a positive experience.

Linda Bowden Moreno

Thank you ASPCA for the wonderful work you do!! Reading these success stories really restores my faith in people. So many stories of neglect and abuse in this world is so disheartening, I love hearing cases that give a second chance at happiness and love. Thank you!

Ellen Egan

I agree with the name change, but, on the other hand I also think
it isn't always the name that has to be changed, I would think it's the way it is said that may frighten the dog more than the initial word spoken.

Ginny Rose

I agree with those who think a name change can be a positive thing. My X was extremely abusive and being stuck with his last name would have been very depressing, so I changed it back to my maiden name, which I LOVE. And I believe it can be the same with name, new happy life!!

Joan Parsley

Don't dogs live in the moment anyway. I think renaming a dog is a human thing; all the dog wants and needs is love, discipline and food and shelter.

Karen McNeill

Those poor dogs, I'm so glad one has found its forever after home, and hope that the other will very soon.

I renamed three cats whom I adopted years ago. The mother, daughter and son were named, respectively, Missy, Rat (she was very small) and Nig (he was black). How offensive those names were, and these were beautiful, loving, sentient beings. I renamed them Tiffany, Shalimar and Bartholomew on the theory that kitties grow into the names that you give them. And they did!

Karen McNeill

PS: When he was five years old Julian moved in with me from across the street. His original human didn't actively abuse him, but pretty much ignored him when he was no longer a kitten. (Never took him to the vet, fed him only when he saw him, didn't care when cat came home bloodied from fighting since he hadn't been neutered.) If I heard his original name, I forgot it.

Now his name is Julian, and he is emporer of this house. At night he sleeps with his head on the pillow next to mine. He knows he is much loved.

Linda Pannell

Thank God for the Aspca. When I see a mistreated animal, I just want to take the law into my own hands. I just can't understand how people can be so cruel and heartless. Every animal responds to love and compassion. Infact, my dog, Shadow has taught me about unconditional love. Our 2 dogs, and our 2 cats are so loved and pampered and most of all, very respected. I wish with all my heart, that people would learn the correct ways of taking proper care of their pets, and not abuse them as so many people do. I truly believe, the punishment should fit the crime when it comes to abusing an animal. Make them go through exactly how they treated the dog or cat, or any other animal.