Former leader of animal rescue arrested after 5 dogs found dead inside home
A New Canaan woman and former president of a nonprofit rescue organization has turned herself in to police after her landlord discovered five dead dogs inside her Fairfield home.
Heidi E. Lueders, 31, was arrested and charged with five counts of animal cruelty after surrendering to police Monday night.
Police were called to the Prince Street home in November after the landlord discovered five dead dogs inside crates. The dogs' bodies were decomposed to the point mostly just bones remained. Police believe the dogs had been dead from two to ten months.
"It seems that she failed to provide sustenance for the animals," says Fairfield Police Capt. Robert Kalamaras.
Lueders was the president of Bully Breed Rescue, Inc. The group confirmed the dead dogs were theirs, but said Lueders told other members she had placed them at an animal sanctuary and foster home.
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As the news became public, animal welfare advocates put together a tribute, naming the dogs "The Fairfield Five."
"These dogs had no voice and it was a horrendous crime that deserves a solid punishment," says animal welfare advocate Tina Bencze.
Police issued an arrest warrant for Lueders in late November, but it ended up taking some time for her to come in. Police could not elaborate, but say she was taking care of some personal issues. Kalamaras says police knew where Lueders was and assured she was not a threat to public safety.
According to an arrest warrant, Lueders' home was filled with drug paraphernalia, garbage and animal feces. She has been charged with animal cruelty and criminal damage to property.
"Hopefully whatever direction it goes in will give justice to the dogs that suffered horribly, waiting endlessly in their cages, suffering without food, water, or love until they died," says Bencze.
Lueders is out on bond and will appear in court Jan. 29. The animal advocacy group Desmond's Army plans to be there and will put a lawyer on the case to represent the rights of the dogs.