Distressed dog found in Westport; couple charged with animal cruelty

WESTPORT, Mass. (WPRI) — Police in Westport have confirmed that arrests have been made after a dog in severe distress was found roaming in Westport.

A concerned resident reported seeing the dog in the area of Sanford Road near Milk Avenue. Animal Control and Westport police said they found “a severely matted urine soaked animal stumbling around the area”.Westport animal cruelty - Bella

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) was called to help investigate and care for the animal.

ARL said the dog was suffering from bladder stones, dental problems and had surgery that left her permanently blind. Her medical treatments will cost between $3,000 and $4,000.

Police said they received an anonymous tip that the Llasa Apso was named Bella and belonged to a family that lived on Sanford Road, who also had three Dachshunds that were also in poor health.

Investigators paid a visit to the address and the owner, Thomas Burke, allowed them to search the home. Police said they collected evidence of Bella’s presence and took the three Dachshunds to the vet, saying one of the dogs had an infected and swollen foot pad due to a long, untreated toenail and another tested positive for Giardia, a parasitic disease.

Thomas and Kerry Burke (Photos: Westport Police)
Thomas and Kerry Burke (Photos: Westport Police)

Burke, 42, turned himself into police and his wife, Kerry, 43, was later arrested at their house. Both admitted to being Bella’s owner and were charged with felony animal cruelty, according to police.

“If you are going to own animals you must properly care for them,” said Det. Jeff Majewski. “Excuses like a lack of money or time doesn’t help a defenseless animal who is in need of medical attention!”

The couple was arraigned Tuesday and released on bail.

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