Woman charged with not returning abused dogs

September 25, 2010 11:16:36 AM PDT
A woman is charged with not returning dogs to their rightful owners, but she said she kept them because they were abused.

Animal rescuer Diane Indelicato says the dogs that were found in Baldwin by a Good Samaritan last week were abused before they were brought to her center in Oceanside.

"Severely, severely matted, it has to be years of neglect," Indelicato said.

Except now, Diane is the one facing a criminal charge, because police say she refused to give the dogs back to the people who live in Baldwin and claimed they were the owners.

Instead, she told them the dogs had escaped.

"Although our defendant had her heart in the right place and was trying to help the dogs, she went about it the wrong way, she went about it illegally," said Sgt. Anthony Repalone, of the Nassau County Police Department.

Still, Diane says the so-called owners never offered her any proof of ownership, and in fact, were hostile.

"Came barging in the store, threatened to punch one of my volunteers in the face, and said that he wanted his dogs back," Indelicato said.

Their neighbors in Baldwin only bolstered Diane's claims of animal abuse.

"No one knows that they're out all winter long, no one knows that they were out there in 90-degree weather, no one knows I've complained to the landlord," neighbor Lynn Koeppon said.

"They were left outside too much, anybody can attest to that," said Carol Jonson, a neighbor.

Police are now citing this case as an example of why anyone who suspects animal abuse or neglect must call authorities.

"I didn't know it was going to turn into this," Indelicato said.

She says all she knows is that she didn't want the dogs to suffer any more.

"Their coats were so matted, it was almost like woven into the sides, and their legs were woven so tightly, their skin was red raw from the coat," Indelicato said.

She is scheduled for arraignment in First District Court in Hempstead on Oct. 14.

The dogs are back with their owner.

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