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Pet parents speak out after shelter owner arrested for animal abuse

GLASTONBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Days after State Police arrested a pet rescue owner for animal cruelty, people who adopted from the shelter are having mixed feelings.

Those who opted to adopt pets from the Connecticut Pregnant Dog and Cat Rescue in Glastonbury are trying to wrap their heads around the recent events.

Joann Connelly, 59, was arrested on three counts of animal cruelty. Investigators seized more than 70 animals from Connelly’s property in Hebron where they found multiple dogs, cats, birds, a pony, goats, and geese all living in what they called “deplorable” and “extremely unsanitary” conditions. An animal control officer said the odor was so strong that he “had difficulty breathing even while wearing a N95 respirator.”

Those involved with the rescue posted on the business’s Facebook account that Connelly’s “heart was in the right place” but “became overwhelmed with the number of animals she was trying to help.”

People who adopted animals from the shelter had both positive and negative experiences.

Kristi King, who adopted dogs Luna and Buddy, told News 8 that she adopted them from the rescue center, and while she only planned to adopt one, she felt pressured into fostering and adopting another.

“[The owner] said, ‘I can’t bring him back to my house, I already have 20 puppies there that I have to take care of, I have a cracked rib, I’m going through a divorce, I have to sell my house,’” King said.

Now, she said she has $1,500 in bills and is “trying to figure out what the heck is going on with these puppies.”

King quickly realized that the second dog, Buddy, had some issues. She noted that he had a very wide gait and could see something was wrong with his spine. Now, she sees both dogs have symptoms of worms.

On the other hand, Jodette Bentley, a volunteer and adoptee with the shelter, has known Connelly for years and adopted cats from her.

“I know lots of other people, people that I directed to Joann that have adopted from her that have had great experiences,” Bentley told News 8.

Bentley said she started to help Connelly with organizing records for the rescue and recently noticed Connelly was acting frantic.

“I know that Joann has a huge heart and she was just trying to make sure that as many animals as she could got rescued,” Bentley said, noting that “sometimes you find yourself in a situation that it just spirals out of control.”

King believes that Connelly should have known what she could handle, noting that her dogs are sick, have a spinal issue, and now have worms. She’s questioning: “what’s next?”

“She shouldn’t be allowed to own animals because she obviously doesn’t know when enough is enough,” King said.

Connelly was reportedly in the process of renovating the Glastonbury location to help with capacity.

Currently, Connelly is being held on a $10,000 bond and is due in court Monday.