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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Lisa Weaver

We adopted a shelter dog in November and my son gave him a new name,which he responds to greatly,and it's a new chapter in his life!!His name was Pistol(he's from Texas)and now it's Sparky,he's a Jack Russell/Beagle mix!



Diane McClure

PLEASE DEAR GOD put IRVING IN JAIL OR HELL !! Those are beautiful dogs WHY ???? in the world would she do that to those dogs why not ask for help !! She is one SORRY human !! If she really is a human !!


Didn't they say in the article that Cagney went to a good foster home? Then why does it say that anyone is welcome to adopt Cagney and that she's still looking for a home?

Cindy Bachelder

She is beautiful!!!


Renaming is a great idea! In December '11 I renamed my rescued 14 yr old toy Poodle Patrick, and he responded immediately. He was given up for 1) not cute anymore and 2) too much of a hassle to take care of. He's 14, almost blind, 2 teeth, and the scrawniest little munchkin ever. He's in a "relationship" with my rescued 11 yr old Black Lab. I don't know what happened to him before he decided to let 'me live with him', but his fearful behavior showed it wasn't happy. I started calling him Patrick, and he changed completely and became the Alpha Dog!


Great to see a happy ending for this sweet dog.


This is great news about the pups. The problem we have is that our county won't do anything about animal abuse and neglect. When my group found two starving dogs, a starving cat, and two hutches filled with dead rabbits that died in the hot sun with no food or water and we took pictures, the ASPCA would do nothing. We even had pictures, owner name, address, everything. We rescued the dogs and cat. The rabbits were animals too and it is right that those people got off scott free from what they did to those poor little rabbits. I don't have much faith in the ASPCA


I honestly think their previous owners, who neglected them that much, hardly ever called them by their name anyway. I think a new name could help the animal associate good feelings so much more easily.


Hello my name is Florencia, I'm from Argentina, I really wanted to congratulate you for the great work they do! It fills my soul to know that there are people so good with animals and especially that they respect them! I always see the ASPCA program in home & health. Congratulations with all my heart, keep it up! <3