A gas meter reader made a disturbing discovery in the basement of a Lawrence apartment building on May 14, 2014. During a routine maintenance call, the meter reader tried to gain access to the basement but was met with a “putrid, reeking” smell, according to the Eagle Tribune.
What he discovered were 11 pit bulls living in deplorable conditions. He immediately called Lawrence animal control. Officer Ellen Bistany and MSPCA Office Martha Parkhurst arrived on the scene and charged Pierre Cassagnol-Reyes, 31, with 11 counts of animal cruelty. It appears to be a “backyard breeder” operation.
Five of the pit bull mixes are puppies approximately five weeks old. Most of the dogs were living in kennels made from broken pallets and wire mesh. Some were kept two to a cage. A few dogs were found in Cassagnol-Reyes' upstairs apartment. The windows of the basement were bricked shut and the basement was covered in trash, animal feces and urine, and old dog food. The basement was also infested with bugs.
Due to the inhumane conditions and breeding, some of the dogs are deformed with twisted legs and one had a severe case of mange.
Because of the condition of the Cedar Street apartment building's basement, the Lawrence Inspectional Services Department and the Department of Children's and Families were called to evaluate the living conditions. The building owner, Maximo Perez, has been cited for unsanitary conditions by the city inspector and the building must be up to code.
All of the dogs were surrendered to the MSPCA: four went to MSPCA-Angell for medical treatment, two went to the Lowell Humane Society and the five puppies went to MSPCA-Nevin's. The puppies have already been adopted.
The investigation is ongoing.
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