Police say decomposing dog, squalid conditions led to arrest of Norwich woman

Norwich – A Norwich woman appeared in court this week in an animal cruelty case stemming from the discovery of the decomposing body of a dog amid squalor in a room at her Norwich apartment.

Norwich Animal Control Officer Donna Gremminger found the body of D-Bow, a 3-year-old pit bull mix, on Jan. 18 on an upper floor at the 6 Durfey St. apartment of 34-year-old Sonya Smith. Police were tipped off about possible animal abuse by an anonymous caller.

The dog appears to have starved to death, and amid the feces and dried puddles of urine in the room where the dog was contained were unopened cans of beans, corn and Crisco. The cans had been gnawed at as if the dog was desperate for food, police said. Examination of the dog revealed lacerations to its gums and tongue.

Smith told police she had been taking care of the dog for a friend since October and that her three juvenile children were responsible for feeding and taking the dog outside. The care of the dog was supposed to be temporary, but the friend never retrieved the dog. Police said the dog, which Smith said she had been feeding table scraps, was likely dead for several weeks.

Smith, according to police, said the dog's health had deteriorated over the last several months and was unable to make it outside.

Gremminger, in her report, noted that when removing the dog from the home, it was emaciated to the point that its spine, ribs and pelvic bone were visibly protruding from under its skin and decomposition had led to protrusion of internal organs.

The state Department of Children and Families was called in at the time of Smith's arrest and police say they expect additional criminal charges. Smith relinquished custody of a cat.

Smith, who appeared before a judge in Norwich Superior Court on Thursday, is free on a written promise to appear in court with conditions she not own a pet.

She is charged with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, two counts of failure to vaccinate and one count of failure to license a dog. She is due back in court on March 5.


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