“We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”― Immanuel Kant
To Our Fellow Animal Lovers:
Almost Home’s Training Wheels® volunteers are on the frontline in the battle against animal cruelty. Literally going door to door in Long Island’s low income communities to take care of animals that would otherwise be left to fend for themselves. These volunteers never know what they will find on a home visit. The best case scenario is a welcoming and responsible pet owner who is grateful for the free food, treats, toys, and veterinary care. Usually they encounter more neglect, e.g. dogs left outside in all weather conditions, unused straw and food, continued use of heavy chains instead of tie outs, etc. Then there are the sickening, rage inducing situations that become a call to fight. Soldier’s story described below falls into that last category. It is one of the most horrific accounts of animal abuse according to veteran rescue workers who have seen it all. It is a case that demands action. Please be warned that the content below may be upsetting or disturbing for some people.
On the 3rd Saturday of every month, Training Wheels volunteers arrive at the shelter early in the morning. They pack out their vehicles and drive into Wyandanch and Amityville to distribute supplies to financially challenged families. On November 19, 2016, several volunteers were on their prescribed routes when a loose dog was spotted. This is a type of intervening event that forces the volunteers to stop what they are doing and focus on an immediate need.
The loose dog, eventually renamed Dove, lead four Almost Home volunteers, and one from Rock & Rawhide, to the residence of Veleda Bailey. Dove had retreated to the side of the house and while three of the volunteers were attempting to corral the loose dog, two teenage girls from the home said that the dog was theirs. During this exchange, the girls said that their family needed help because they have dogs that weren’t being fed. At this point it is important to provide some background so that the full scope of this situation can best be understood.
The five dogs that had been living at Ms. Bailey’s house actually belonged to a man who was incarcerated at that time. Ms. Bailey freely admitted this to the volunteers. She further admitted that the dogs had become her responsibility while their owner was in jail.
Four of the volunteers were lead through Ms. Bailey’s house to the backyard. It was there that the volunteers saw three starved and sick puppies. These puppies were renamed Raven, Falcon, and Sparrow. They also found an adult male, later named Genesis, in poor condition.
The volunteers headed back into the house to talk with Ms. Bailey and ask if she needed assistance. The assistance that was being offered here meant providing dog food and veterinary care. This is normally offered on the condition that the animals get fixed. In this situation, however, the volunteers simply wanted to figure out a way to get the animals off of the property as Ms. Bailey admitted to not having fed the dogs for at least a week.
The volunteers immediately started to bring in food. While feeding the dogs, one of them made a gruesome discovery. On the far left side of the backyard, chained to a tree, was the dead body of Soldier.
It has not been determined how long he had been out there, dead or alive. Soldier’s death was due to starvation. His emaciated body was carried away by the volunteers in a garbage bag to be disposed of respectfully. At least in his death Soldier would be treated properly.
Despite their shock and revulsion, action needed to be taken. Linda Klampfl, president of Almost Home, was called to the scene. Upon arriving and inspecting the situation first hand, Mrs. Klampfl made calls to the Suffolk County Police Department, the Suffolk County SPCA, and the Town of Babylon Animal Control. In alerting the appropriate authorities, there was then nothing left to do but wait for their arrival. Several of the volunteers used this time to resume their normal Training Wheels routes and complete the home visits so that other dogs in need would be cared for.
After completing their routes, the volunteers went back to Ms. Bailey’s house and were there to meet with the police, SPCA, and Animal Control. The SPCA took a bunch of photos, Animal Control took all of the living dogs, but the police left without Ms. Bailey in their custody. While Animal Control were removing the puppies, Genesis, and Dove from the property, there was a family barbecue in progress with children playing nearby. Only one person from that whole group, a small boy, asked to say goodbye to his dog.
Three days later on November 22, Ms. Bailey was issued desk ticket to appear in the First District Court in Central Islip on January 26, 2017. Several shelters and support groups, most notably Rock & Rawhide, collaborated with Almost Home to make sure that rescue community was well represented at the courthouse for Ms. Bailey’s appearance. A rally was held outside that drew coverage from local and regional media outlets. When Ms. Bailey could not post bail, the sight of her being hauled out of court in handcuffs was widely regarded as the first step in a long journey to justice for Soldier.
There have been court appearances since that day, including a hearing that saw Ms. Bailey released to her aunt’s custody and her bail vacated. There will be other court dates in the future as this case winds its way through the legal system.
By this point a lot of you might be wondering what it is you can do to help. Unfortunately, it is too late for Soldier and also Falcon (one of Dove’s puppies), who later died of parvovirus.
First and foremost is your continued support of Almost Home’s Animal Rescue and Training Wheels programs. Donations in the form of money, time, or supplies are always needed. Your donations help us to continue our Training Wheels program. Any amount helps us feed and give medical help to these poor souls left outside 24/7 in the harsh elements. The animals in our Training Wheels program are forever grateful.
Please help us in our quest for Justice for Soldier. Thank you, in advance, for your support.