Attorney General William Tong is seeking state custody of dozens of animals confiscated from an animal rescue in Hebron following an investigation by multiple state agencies last month.
Officials said Tong is trying to get state custody of 33 dogs, 28 cats, five ducks, three goats and a pony seized March 25 by CT Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue.
According to the AG’s office, Tong’s petition also requests that the animal rescue owner identify all animals in his possession that are being cared for by members of the public through CT Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue.
On March 23, an investigator from the Department for Children and Families (DCF) requested assistance during a site visit to obtain information that the owner, 59-year-old Joann Connelly, had moved and left behind a large number of animals had been.
Connecticut State Police said they were on hand to help with animal rescue on Porter Road.
According to the Connecticut State Police, a site visit with several other agencies determined that conditions inside the home were deplorable and unsanitary, and an overwhelming sense of urine and feces could be smelled from outside the home.
State police said observers saw numerous dogs in cages crammed throughout the home and basement. Floors throughout the home were also covered in urine and feces, police said.
Birds and cats were also found inside, and a pony, geese and goats were also seen outside the home in poor conditions, police said.
State police arrested 59-year-old Joann Connelly after she served a warrant.
Connelly was charged with three counts of animal cruelty and held on $10,000 bail. She is scheduled to appear in court on March 28.
According to state police, animal control was at Connelly’s home as early as February 2020, which revealed only five dogs appeared to be in good condition.
In February 2021, complaints began and continue to be received about Connelly’s care of the animals, citing allegations of neglect. Police said there was a locked gate at the end of the driveway and several attempts were made to enter the home, but were unsuccessful.
Police said that despite the numerous complaints received by State Animal Control, there was no solid evidence to support a search and seizure warrant.
Stonington, East Lyme, Waterford and East Hampton Animal Controls responded to the scene to help.
According to a Facebook post, the animal rescue said it would no longer be active due to “unforeseen circumstances.”
Animal rescue said the shelter’s owner was overwhelmed by the number of animals she was willing to help.
“I’m sorry to everyone who tried to help in any way they could,” the rescue said.
Rescuers asked for sympathy, saying it had simply become more than they could handle.
According to Tong’s office, the recovered animals were found in different conditions, and one parakeet that was so large when searched died a week later. The confiscated animals are held in various animal control facilities where they receive proper care.
The state Department of Agriculture said this is an ongoing investigation.
DCF officials said they were unable to provide any further information, but issued this statement:
“Due to the legal duty of confidentiality according to Conn. Gen. Stat. 17a-28, the Ministry cannot comment on this matter.
The department maintains collaborative relationships with community partners across the state, including law enforcement personnel.
Supporting families and protecting children requires diligent and persistent efforts. Supporting a family can begin by dialing 211, where community-based support is available throughout Connecticut. Information and services for families seeking behavioral health services can be found at: www.connectingtocarect.org
A reasonable suspicion of child abuse can be reported to the Child Abuse and Neglect Helpline at 1-800-842-2288. The Careline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Careline callers can remain anonymous.”