Hartford PD: Woman responsible for dog found frozen to death knew the dog was dead in her back yard

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HARTFORD --  A Hartford woman was in court Monday in connection with the death of a young pit bull who was found frozen to death on New Year’s Day.

Hartford police arrested and charged Michelle Bennett, 50, with animal cruelty, a misdemeanor, claiming she knew the dog was dead in her back yard.

According to the warrant for her arrest, police said went to 108 Adams Street in Hartford to investigate after they received a tip from a concerned citizen. The tip alleged that the dog had been left outside for days in single digit temperatures.

Police records state when they arrived to the home, they discovered the dog known as B.J. “frozen solid” inside a plastic dog house next to a sweatshirt covered in ice with a chain around his neck and no food or water nearby.

Police stated the “dog was deceased and appeared to have been so for quite a while.” The temperature at the time police spotted the dog was 11 degrees Fahrenheit.

The arrest warrant also states Bennett was home when police found the dog and that she told police she knew he was dead, stating she hadn’t heard him bark in a few days.

Bennett also told police the dog belongs to her step-brother, who is currently incarcerated on drug charges.  Bennett had the dog in the basement for several months until a pipe burst flooding the basement, according to police. That’s when she states the dog was moved outside.  Police said she told them feeding the dog was not her responsibility.

Animal Rights advocates gathered outside the court Monday demanding justice for B.J.

“We are here to bring attention to this because a lot of people are not aware of how in a matter of just a few minutes how animals can freeze to death in this weather,” said Deanna Damen, an animal rights advocate.

Bennett’s friend defended her side of the story.

“All she did was live and pay rent in that house so they got the wrong woman for everything, she can’t even really speak English,”  Earnest James, Hartford.  He went on to say, “I want justice for the dog also.  I’m a pit bull lover, but at the same time you just crucified somebody because she’s saying one thing and the police switched up the story that’s why we’re fighting the case.”

According to a veterinary report, the dog had been lying in fecal material which was found on its frozen body.

"He was underweight for his body size with low body fat and low muscle density," the report reads. "His bones were easily palpable and often visible beneath the skin - his ribs and pelvic bones were prominent."

During Monday’s court hearing, an animal advocate attorney was appointed to the case.  The judge ordered Bennett to return to court February 5th.  In the meantime she is not allowed to possess any pets or animals.