Ronnie Crapps, 49, pleaded not guilty Monday in Springfield District Court to one count of cruelty to an animal stemming from his alleged treatment of his dog Bella, a female pit bull terrier.
His wife, Sarah Crapps, of Springfield, pleaded not guilty to the same charge.
By failing to provide adequate nutrition and medical care, the couple "knowingly and willingly subjected Bella to unnecessary suffering" for months, according to a complaint filed by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which investigates abuse and neglect complaints.
Bella was carried, wrapped in a blanket, into the Dakin Humane Society's shelter in Springfield on Dec. 1, according to a case summary filed along with the charges.
The dog was unable to walk and suffering from a fever and chronic infections of her skin, ears, urinary tract and mammary glands.
The dog's condition was so dire that shelter officials assumed that Ronnie Crapps wanted her euthanized. The owner insisted the dog had no health problems, but said he was no longer able care for her.
A man accompanying Crapps added that "the dog was just very shy and never went outside the house," the report said.
Ronnie Crapps signed the surrender order and both men left, the report said.
When a veterinarian unwrapped the blanket, she was appalled by the dog's condition and immediately contacted MSPCA investigator Christine Allenberg.
When Allenberg contacted Ronnie Crapps, he denied ever neglecting or abusing the dog, according to the case summary.
He and his wife purchased Bella for their daughter more than a decade ago, Ronnie Crapps said. After the couple separated last year, the dog stayed with Sarah Crapps in Springfield but he visited several times a week. The couple eventually decided to surrender Bella because a back injury had made it increasingly difficult for Sarah Crapps to care for her, Ronnie Crapps said.
Bella was "very old ... and losing a bit of weight," but still healthy when he carried her into the shelter on Dec. 1, Ronnie Crapps said.
For her part, Sarah Crapps was "shocked" to learn of the dog's poor health and suggested the Humane Society was to blame, according to the summary.
While Ronnie Crapps described the dog as being elderly, Dakin staffers estimated her actual age at around 2 years, the report said.
The dog's health has rebounded since her arrival at the shelter, thanks to a proper diet and veterinary care. The multiple infections are gone, her hair is growing back and her weight is increasing at a rate of one pound a week, according to the report.
"She has been eating very well at the shelter, never turning down a meal or a treat," the report said.
The Crappses are due back in court for a pretrial hearing on March 31.
(MassLive - Feb 4, 2017)