Church Beating Couple's Home Full of Neglected Animals

'Conditions in the house were abhorrent': animal advocate
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 19, 2015 12:33 AM CDT
Bruce Leonard enters the courtroom for a hearing Friday in New Hartford, NY.   (Tina Russell/Observer-Dispatch via AP, Pool)
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(Newser) – Seemingly neglected caged dogs and other animals were found in the foul-smelling, garbage-filled home of the New York couple arrested and charged with beating their two teenage sons, one fatally, during a "counseling" session at their secretive church, says an animal advocate who rescued the pets. Kimberly Strong, founder of animal advocacy group Lainey's Army, says there were four neglected dogs, three birds, and several cats in and around the Clayville home of Bruce and Deborah Leonard. Feces and urine were everywhere, she says. "Conditions in the house were abhorrent; it smelled [bad enough] to knock you out," says Strong, who was called by concerned neighbors.

"I saw a female dog running loose with a big macaw and the cats," she says. "And I saw a Rottweiler and a beagle locked in basement cages." A local animal control officer says it was plain to see the animals needed help. But also, he says, there was "trash everywhere" in the home. "It was a terrible experience," he says. "I don't see how human beings could live in this house, because it was just so unhealthy." Strong tells the Syracuse Post-Standard that she believes the home's condition predates the couple's arrest. "That's not a one-day thing," she says. "That's not a one-week thing." All of the animals are now in foster care, she says. (Police believe the beating was connected to the teens' desire to leave the church.)

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