Couple charged with animal cruelty after neglected dog found abandoned in Old Town

Lily, a 5-year-old German shepherd, was found Saturday on Bennoch Road in Old Town, where her owners allegedly abandoned her. The dog was euthanized on Wednesday, after staff members of Eastern Maine Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Brewer, who had been providing medical care for her, discovered she was full of cancer. Her owners have been charged with animal cruelty.
Officer Deborah Holmes | Old Town Police Department
Lily, a 5-year-old German shepherd, was found Saturday on Bennoch Road in Old Town, where her owners allegedly abandoned her. The dog was euthanized on Wednesday, after staff members of Eastern Maine Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Brewer, who had been providing medical care for her, discovered she was full of cancer. Her owners have been charged with animal cruelty.
Posted June 12, 2013, at 8:41 p.m.

OLD TOWN, Maine — A former Hudson couple was summoned Wednesday in connection with what Old Town police Officer Deborah Holmes called perhaps the worst case of neglect she has encountered in her 26 years in law enforcement.

Charged with animal cruelty were Jerry Thomas, 53, and his 55-year-old wife, Kathy Thomas, Holmes said.

“She was in really rough shape,” Holmes said about Lily, the 5-year-old German shepherd the couple allegedly abandoned early Saturday morning in the pouring rain off a turnaround along Bennoch Road.

“She had little to no hair on her back and legs and she was covered in bugs. Her skin was leathery,” Holmes said Wednesday. The officer said that the dog also was thin and had infected ears. Ticks were embedded around its neck and nails, which were so long they were curled under.

Holmes said Lily was “very skittish.” Holmes said she had a witness stay with the dog while she went to a nearby convenience store to get a breakfast sandwich that she then tried to use to coax Lily into her vehicle.

“She wasn’t having any of that,” said Holmes. The dog, however, eventually developed the confidence to go with Holmes after Holmes put her on a lead. She took Lily to Eastern Maine Emergency Veterinary Clinic in Brewer, where the staff bathed her, groomed her and gave her medication.

The witness was able to provide the license plate number of the dark-colored truck seen near where the dog was found and Holmes used it to trace the couple to their former home in Hudson, where their former landlord confirmed they had owned a German shepherd. Holmes eventually traced the couple to the Ranger Inn in Bangor where they had been staying.

Holmes contacted the pair and on Wednesday, they came to the Old Town Police Department, where both were charged with animal cruelty.

Jerry Thomas initially denied having left the dog, saying that he had pulled over along Bennoch Road to relieve himself. He then allegedly told the officer he accepted full responsibility for the incident, but Holmes said she decided to charge both of the Thomases because Lily’s condition appeared to be the result of long-term neglect and “there is no way [Kathy Thomas] could have come home every night and not seen it.”

Holmes said that the couple eventually told her they no longer were able to care for the dog.

On Wednesday, staff at the veterinary clinic found cancer throughout Lily’s body and euthanized her, Holmes said.

“I was really hoping for a different outcome,” Holmes said, adding that several people who had learned of Lily’s plight on the Old Town Police Department’s Facebook page had offered to adopt her.

Holmes said the couple is scheduled to appear at the Penobscot Judicial Center on July 18 to respond to the charges.

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