Animal Control Officer on Cassie Palmer Animal Cruelty Case: “There is a Lesson In This”

Just after Thanksgiving Greenwich resident Catherine “Cassie” Palmer, who owns homes in Greenwich and New Canaan, was arrested and charged with three counts of animal cruelty after three puppies died in a New Canaan home she rented to tenants but also kept about a dozen puppies.

New Canaan Police removed a dozen dogs, and Palmer was charged with 3 counts of animal cruelty for the dogs who died.

She was instructed not to have any contact with animals as a condition of her release on bond. That meant no possession of animals, no engagement in sale of animals (direct or indirect), no transfer of animals, no volunteering, no dealings direct or third party, and no posting of transfers or sale under any name.

“People continue to go online to buy a dog proves that we have a long way to go in educating the public. We are a society of convenience. We still believe what we see, and we fall as prey.”

Allyson Halm, New Canaan Animal Control

At her court hearing last week, marshals rearrested Palmer for violating the conditions of her release after an incident at a veterinarian’s office in Norwalk.

Catherine “Cassie” Palmer. Photo: New Canaan Police

An affidavit for an application for an arrest warrant from Lt David O’Connor of Norwalk Police Dept said that on Feb 5, Palmer brought three dogs for treatment to United Animal Center in Norwalk.

He said he made contact with staff at the veterinarian’s office who said Palmer brought in three dogs who were dirty and “covered in vomit, urine and feces.”

The arrest warrant also said Palmer paid the bill in cash and changed the name on her account to her boyfriend’s name. Further, that after treating the dogs the veterinarian told Palmer he was not interested in doing business with her in the future. Also, per the affidavit, the boyfriend said he had no details on the dogs.

Palmer was in court again on Thursday and her attorney asked the judge to lower her $150,000 bond.

The assistant state’s attorney argued the bond should not be decreased, citing Palmer’s “blatant and flagrant disregard” for court orders. She noted in addition to having contact with dogs, Palmer had allegedly been trying to sell more dogs.

In a compromise, bond was lowered to $25,000. The judge also assigned Palmer an ankle monitoring bracelet.

Reached by phone on Friday, New Canaan Animal Control Officer Allyson Halm, who is familiar to many in Greenwich for her years here at Greenwich Animal Control and then as director of Adopt A Dog, said that if anything good does come from the case it was that several dogs were saved who were destined to go back down south to puppy mills to breed for profit.

“Certainly I was pleased about the volunteer effort to keep these puppies safe and clean and ready to adopt once we gained custody,” she said, adding. “We very excited the judge heard us, agreed with us and sided with us, and these 12 dogs are going to live happy, safe lives.”

Moreover, Halm said, “That people continue to go online to buy a dog proves that we have a long way to go in educating the public. We are a society of convenience. We still believe what we see, and we fall as prey.”

Halm added, “Brick and mortar shelters are struggling and suffering because the online agencies seem to supersede the adoption process. There’s still a lot of great organizations doing great work with foster homes.”

“Are we enabling the south to provide us adoptable dogs?” she asked.

A dog waits to be adopted at a Best Friends. Credit: Leslie Yager

“We overfluff, overtalk, over touch and over indulge dogs and say, “Oh, he must want this. He must want that.’ We humanize them way too much,” she said, adding, “I’ve always found the most deprived dogs are the best dogs.”

Officer Halm said people must educate themselves about puppy mills and buying online.

Instead, said people who want a dog should avoid buying online or in pet shops and either research a breeder and meet them. Or better yet, take the time to go and meet shelter dogs and find one who is the right fit.

“People need to do their homework,” she said. “Try to adopt, don’t shop. But, if you’re determined to get the breed you have always wanted, do your homework first. Visit the breeder make the effort. Do not buy online.”

More on the pipeline of southern dogs to northern states. Based on interviews with Allyson Halm and Ray Connors, Supervisor Animal Control Division at Ct Dept. of Agriculture in Hartford.

Dog Dilemma: Connecticut Shelter Dogs and the Southern Squeeze

November 2014