Deceased pets found in filthy home; couple charged with animal cruelty

Stephen and Nicole Botelho (Mugshots courtesy of Westport Police)

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — A Westport woman and her estranged husband were taken into custody Tuesday after police found dead animals amid disgusting conditions inside a home on Sanford Road.

According to police, investigators were called to the home Sept. 25 for a severe case of animal cruelty. They arrived to find the house in a state of squalor, with animal feces, fleas and large amounts of trash scattered about.

While looking for several cats that resided in the home, a Westport Animal Control officer found a deceased American Eskimo dog inside a trash bag. She then discovered a bearded dragon, also deceased, inside a terrarium in a bedroom. Further searching led to the discovery of another dead American Eskimo dog lying in a closet with a half-eaten paperback book in its mouth.

One of the dogs was approximately 6 years old, and the other was about 12. One of the dogs had a choke-style chain color around its midsection, and it was so infested with fleas that officers initially weren’t sure if it was still breathing.

An exterior shot of the Sanford Road home (Photo: Westport Police)
An exterior shot of the Sanford Road home (Photo: Westport Police)

Police said they were not able to locate adequate food for any of the animals.

The kitchen floor was almost entirely covered with decaying animal feces and household trash, according to police. Despite wearing protective gear and face masks, the odor inside was overwhelming for the officers.

Police also found a litter box in one of the bedrooms overflowing with cat feces. They were not able to find all of the cats, but a broken window in the cellar led officers to believe the felines were transient and used the window to enter and exit the home.

Nichole Botelho, 45, and Stephen Botelho, 52, were both arraigned Wednesday on six counts of animal cruelty. One of the animal consultants who assisted police said malnutrition, starvation and dehydration are among the most painful methods of animal cruelty.

Police said a 17-year-old juvenile was also summoned to court on the same six charges.

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