They are known as the “NY 7.”
That’s the name given to seven pit bulls — six of which were found starved and abandoned, with their teeth ground down and with sores, bite marks and scars at a home in Norwich, Chenango County, back in January.
Anthony Thompson, 35, of an address given as Johnson City, has been charged with six counts of animal cruelty in the case.
The dogs are alleged to have been used for dog fighting and were found emaciated in a wooded area behind Thompson’s house. At the request of the Chenango County District Attorney’s Office, six of the seven dogs were turned over to North Norwich Dog Control Officer Matthew Bates. However a female found in good condition, believed to be used for breeding, was allowed to be returned to the owner by the ruling of Norwich Town Justice James Fox. A trial for the animal abuse case is pending.
Today Lainey’s Army says it has taken on the fight to win justice for these dogs and to rally against the judge’s decision to return the seventh canine to its owner. On Saturday, a convoy of cars went to Norwich to pick up the six dogs and brought them back to All Creatures Boarding and Grooming, 6572 Williams Road.
The dogs are being kept at the facility until they are healthy enough to be trained by Kim Strong, local animal advocate and creator of Lainey’s Army. The group is named for a 4-year-old Austrian Shepherd mix that had been left chained outdoors, with no food or water, at a Camden residence between April and May 2013. Lainey was eventually rescued, but died shortly after.
Lainey’s Army Publicity Director Patti Gallagher described how the dogs were found with their teeth ground, a very painful procedure for the animals. A mix of males and females were rescued.
“One we tried to give her treats but she would just kind of gnaw on it — she couldn’t chew,” Gallagher said. “The vet said she would need the rest of her teeth removed and that she will have to eat soft food for the rest of her life. Some of the dogs also had sores from fighting.”
Because they were trained to fight and be aggressive toward one another, the dogs had to be kept separated as they were presented to the public Saturday once they arrived to All Creatures, Gallagher explained.
Once each dog’s medical needs are assessed and addressed, “Kim Strong trains dogs and she will be working with them at her kennel to see if they can be socialized enough to be fostered or adopted into homes, and we’re hoping that’s the case for all these dogs,” Gallagher said. “When people went to greet them Saturday their tails wagged and their butts wiggled like crazy. They were very affectionate toward people.”
Members of Lainey’s Army are hoping more people will come forward with other stories and information about Thompson so that justice is finally served for not only the six, but all seven pit bulls.
“Our goal is to get him to give us the seventh dog back — whether it be through the judge or possibly through another rescue,” Strong said. “We’ve called the dog fighting people because we believe these dogs were being used for dog fighting. There’s a lot of genetic flaws in these dogs. When the dog faces you and their paws go to the side, that’s a genetic flaw. Their under bites are really deformed too. We believe all these dogs are related because they have so many deformities.”
Gallagher added, “They were in very bad conditions when they were found (in January). They were chained in the woods in the back of his (Thompson’s) house. What happens in dog fighting rings is that dogs are used as bait, and some are used to go in ring and fight each other. The female that he got back was in good condition because she’s the breeder.”
“We’re going to fight this like crazy because he needs to be shut down,” she said. “He (Thompson) was charged with six counts of animal cruelty. The dog control officer in Norwich and the district attorney down there wanted all the dogs removed from him, and his charges have not gone to trial yet. But the judge let him take the seventh dog back and that’s what we’re upset about — Lainey’s Army, the dog control officer and the DA. He was able to agree to relinquish the (six) dogs in order not to have jail time. The judge was wiling to let him keep the one that was not abused.”
Two of the canines, including one named Brody, had their teeth ground. Strong said there’s no evidence that proves Thompson physically did that to the dogs, however, he did fail to seek medical care for the animals in such a condition.
“Brody had his teeth ground down with a saw. There’s no way to get anesthesia if you’re not a veterinarian, so this was most likely done without any pain killers,” Strong said. “The teeth were ground down to the nerves so now all their teeth have to be removed. Otherwise, it’s a source of infection for the dogs for the rest of their lives. They have difficulty eating because of the deformities in their mouths.”
Lainey’s Army members have already collected around 5,000 signatures on an online petition to have the seventh dog removed from Thompson’s custody and placed into the care of the advocacy group.
“We’re putting a reward out for information on dog fighting with this man,” Strong said. “Anyone who knows anything, we want them to step forward. If we can prove this man did this to their teeth, there can be more or stronger charges and the judge may be able to get that dog back.”
Gallagher said the group plans to go down to Norwich and put up petitions, and they’re looking for a business that will host them. Despite this case happening in Norwich, Strong said everyone needs to be aware of the dangers of animal cruelty everywhere.
“We want to make sure everyone knows his (Thompson’s) name and face. We’re going to make sure we keep putting it out there,” said Strong. “One thing dog fighters don’t want is exposure. They don’t want people to know who they are. This type of abuse is what lives in the dark and we need to shed light on it. These dogs are still emaciated looking and they’ve been with a vet since Jan. 16.”
“Judge Fox needs to make this right, somehow,” she said. “Somebody needs to fix this. But that (seventh) dog is not safe.”
Anyone with information or to check out the group’s latest efforts, see their Justice for Lainey Facebook page. Kim Strong may also be contacted at 794-6372 or at email@example.com. The group is also seeking donations to help defray costs for surgery and medical procedures for the dogs.