After suffering alleged abuse and then living in a veterinarian’s office for several months, Miss Harper — the puppy found in September 2013 with its ears and right hind leg mutilated — has found a home.
The now-16-month-old pit bull mix was surrounded by her new family Tuesday morning at My Pet's Vet in Huntington, where the Nassau County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals held a press conference.
Nassau SPCA Det. Bob Sowers said his agency received more than 400 applications from people interested in adopting Harper. After narrowing the pool down to eight families, he said he conducted interviews and home visits with each of them before selecting Harper’s new owners.
“They were all great people,” he said. “It was a very difficult decision.”
He ultimately chose the Roberts family of Bellmore: Steven, his wife, Deborah, their 10-year-old son, Ty, and their 3-year-old terrier mix, Brewster.
During the press conference, Steven Roberts cradled Harper in his arms, and Ty received a kiss from the dog while posing for a family photo with his parents.
Sowers said Harper has actually been living with the Robertses for the past month, but it was considered a trial period. He said he initially thought Harper would need to go to a home where she would be the only dog, but after seeing her interact with Brewster, he determined the environment was a good fit.
“Brewster is an exceptional dog,” Sowers said. “He has the perfect temperament for her.”
The SPCA is also looking for a home for Harper’s mother, Missy, who was also a victim of alleged abuse. Missy, 6, is currently living at My Pet's Vet, where Sowers said she’s well cared for and goes on multiple daily walks, but still spends a good amount of time in a cage.
“It’s heartbreaking for any dog to be confined,” he said. “She’s a good girl.”
Sowers said Missy would do best in a home where she would be the only pet, and is seeking applications from potential adopters. Those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The dogs’ former owners — Lee Hughes, 39, of Westbury, and Shawanna Hughes, 37, of Oyster Bay — along with a veterinary aide, Reginald Smith, 33, of Westbury, are facing charges that include various counts of animal cruelty, practicing veterinary medicine without a license and conspiracy.
The three surrendered to authorities on Feb. 4 and were arraigned after a monthslong investigation by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the SPCA.
Sowers added, “We’re hoping for an aggressive prosecution.”