Danielle Assante

9 animals found dead at animal trainer’s residence

Birchwood Lake, IL  Pike County

May 12, 2006

Pike County Humane Society Supervisor Barry Heim answered a call from neighbors in Birchwood Lake.  Residents stated that Danielle Assante, age 21, the homeowner, a professional trainer of show dogs, had allegedly left her home for three weeks leaving the 12 pets without food or water.

Heim found nine animals dead and three still living at the residence.  The dead animals were a five-month-old Border Collie, three Staffordshire Bull Terriers, three cats, a rabbit and a cockatiel.  Still alive but severely emaciated were three other dogs – two Rotweilers and a Sheltie Collie which were taken to the animal shelter.  One of the surviving Rotweilers was just 59 pounds when rescued and is now back up to 95 pounds.

Trooper McCarthy at the Bloomington Grove State Police Barracks interviewed Assante and arrested her on charges of animal cruelty, a misdemeanor and four summary charges of neglect and unsanitary conditions as reported by Barry Heim.

Assante is scheduled to appear before Magistrate Steve McBride of District Court in Dingmans Ferry on August 8th for a preliminary hearing.  Assante of 173 Butternut St. Birchwood Lakes has been charged with 2 counts of animal cruelty.

Update 8/10/06:

Assante waived her right to a preliminary hearing in the 15 minute hearing at the Delaware Township District Court on 8/8/06 in favor of a jury trial in the Court of Common Pleas in Milford at a later date.  She was released on her own recognizance.  In the courtroom was Rob Losey, Assante's former boyfriend who had left 2 of his dogs in her care.  One of the dogs, a pitbull named Precious died in her care, the other a Rotweiller named Madison survived.

A teary-eyed Assante sat in Delaware Township District Court charged with animal cruelty resulting in the May death of nine animals left in her care. Judge Stephen McBride told her that based on the evidence given to him, there was a crime committed.

Assante, a professional animal handler left 12 animals in her Birchwood Lakes home for three weeks with no food or water. When Pike County Humane Society Supervisor Barry Heim arrived at the home after being called by Assante’s neighbor, he found nine dead animals, feces all over the home, no food, no water, and three other animals that were severely malnourished. He was able to rescue the three animals that were still alive, and they have survived.

Rob Losey, Assante’s former boyfriend, left two of his dogs with her while he looked for a place to live after Assante asked him to leave her home. He stated that one day she just told him to get out.  A few weeks after leaving, Losey stated he received a call from a friend who told him that one of his dogs, a Pit Bull named Precious, had died but his Rotweiller named Madison was still alive.
Randolph Borden, Assante’s attorney stated outside the courtroom that the real issue is why the defendant acted in this manner. ‘Was it intentional or was it something beyond her control?  She had a nervous breakdown. Her life was falling apart. She was just running away from everything’.

Pike County Humane Society Supervisor Barry Heim was not moved.  He stated that during her three-week absence, she had returned to Birchwood to visit her new boyfriend but did not check on the animals. This was documented because she had to use her ‘gate opener card’ and the use of the card was recorded.  Heim further stated that all Assante had to do was call the Humane Society and they would have helped her. He believes there is no excuse for letting nine animals die.

Reference:

Pike County Courier News

Times Tribune

Pennsylvania State Police