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Flushing woman starved dog: ASPCA

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Victoria Tela’s life has gone to the dogs ever since Oct. 10, when a concerned resident reported her to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

ASPCA officers arrested the 43-year-old Flushing woman Monday morning after she turned herself in after being accused of allegedly starving her female pit bull, Fendi, according to Joseph Pentangelo, assistant director of law enforcement for the ASPCA.

After a Flushing resident reported having seen the emaciated dog while Tela was taking her on a rare walk outside, ASPCA Special Agent Joann Sandano visited her home and allegedly found the dog tied to a radiator, emaciated to the point that her ribs were showing through her skin and she had overgrown nails on her paws. The agent also discovered that Tela had no food in the house for the one-year-old dog, according to Pentangelo.

“Most pet owners are responsible, but this is a classic neglect case where simply it appears people lose interest in feeding their pet,” Pentangelo said.

Fendi was signed over to the ASPCA and rushed to the society’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in Manhattan, where she was treated for starvation and neglect. She weighed only 18.5 pounds upon initial examination by a staff veterinarian, but has since gained nearly a dozen pounds, according to Petangelo. Her veterinarians expect her to continue to put on pounds until she reaches a stable weight.

The dog was found to have no wasting diseases or other conditions that would have contributed to her extremely low weight, and doctors hope she will be back to good health soon.

“Fendi is still recovering and we’re hopeful that if she passes this hurdle, and if she’s medically cleared and behaviorally cleared, hopefully she’ll be suitable for adoption,” he said.

Tela was charged by Queens District Attorney Richard Brown’s office Monday with one count of animal cruelty, Pentanglo said. She faces up to one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine if convicted.

Pentangelo said starving or otherwise neglecting a dog is “not very rare,” but that no dog should be treated in such a cruel manner.

“I don’t know what the motivation is to have a pet and deny them food,” he said. “Nobody has to have a pet, but if you have a pet, you have to do what’s right and provide it food and that was not done. There was no food in the house.”

Tela’s was the ASPCA’s 46th animal-cruelty arrest citywide so far this year.

For information about dogs and cats currently up for adoption in New York City through the ASPCA, visit aspca.org/aspca-nyc/adoptable-dogs or aspca.org/aspca-nyc/adoptable-cats. To report incidents of possible animal cruelty, e-mail humanel@aspca.org or call 212-876-7700, Ext. 4450.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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