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May 11, 2013

Woman sent to jail in animal cruelty case

LAWRENCE — A Congress Street woman charged with starving two pit bulls to death was convicted of felony animal cruelty and sent to prison for 90 days.

On Oct. 4 of last year, two dogs, Niko, who had been dead at least a week and was inside a plastic bag, and another emaciated dog named Jada, were found in the 51 Congress St. apartment of Raisa Reyes, 26.

Jada was dehydated, about 30 pounds underweight, and was later euthanized at the MSPCA in Methuen, according to police.

On Wednesday, Reyes was found guilty of the felony animal cruelty charges in Lawrence District Court. Judge Michael Brooks sentenced her to three months in jail, a sentence she will serve at MCI Framingham, police said.

“I am very pleased with the court’s decision and feel justice has been served for Jada and Niko,” said Martha Parkhurst, an MSPCA law enforcement officer who investigated the case with Ellen Bistany, Lawrence’s animal control officer.

Bistany and Parkhurst found the dogs amid “deplorable and revolting” conditions in Reyes’ apartment last fall. Bistany said it was the worst starvation case she’d seen in her 18 years as animal control officer. The plastic bag Niko was found in was also full of dog urine and feces, according to Bistany’s report.

Both officers said they were overcome by a foul odor in the apartment, where Reyes lived with her two children, ages 5 and 7, and at least two dogs.

An anonymous tip initially led animal investigators to Reyes’ home.

At first she denied having any dogs in her apartment and later admitted to having Niko and Jada. She told officers she couldn’t get Jada to eat for her. But Parkhurst fed the dog a part of a submarine sandwich in the apartment and Jada devoured it, according to the report.

Parkhurst, in a statement, praised Judge Brooks and Assistant District Attorney Annaliese Wolf, who prosecuted the case.

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