About 40 protesters gathered outside First District Court in Central Islip on Thursday before the arraignment of a Wyandanch woman who was charged with animal cruelty.
Veleda Bailey, 35, was charged in November after Suffolk County police, SPCA officials and members of an animal rescue group found one of Bailey’s dogs, Soldier, dead and chained to a tree in her backyard. Five of her other dogs were found emaciated, Suffolk County prosecutors said.
One of the dogs suffered from parvovirus and pneumonia and later died, according to Linda Klampfl, director of Almost Home, the Bohemia-based rescue group that first alerted officials to the incident.
Bailey admitted to SPCA officials that she had not fed the dogs in two weeks, according to Suffolk SPCA Capt. Paul Llobell. A necropsy revealed that Soldier, a pit bull mix, had died of starvation.
Protesters waved signs, many showing pictures of Soldier lying dead, and chanted, “no chains, no pain” outside court Thursday morning.
“We’re here to see this case through,” said Keri Michel, 41, of Blue Point. “We want to make sure that woman is held responsible for the abuse of those animals.”
The protesters were accompanied by Genesis, a black pit bull mix found emaciated at Bailey’s home, who is now “plump and happy,” protest organizer Kylie Edmond said.
Genesis and three other dogs taken from the home will be available for adoption through Almost Home.
Several protesters attended Bailey’s arraignment and cheered afterward outside the courtroom.
“This was a terrible case of animal cruelty and we hope this is the first step on a journey toward justice for these dogs,” Klampfl said.
Bailey’s attorney, Daniel Russo, declined to comment on Thursday’s arraignment.
Bailey pleaded not guilty to one felony count of aggravated animal cruelty and six misdemeanor counts of failure to provide sustenance, Llobell said. If found guilty, she could face a 2-year sentence.
Bailey’s bail was set at $25,000 cash or $50,000 bond, Llobell said. She is due back in court on Feb. 10.