QUINCY — More than 250 people, accompanied by countless dogs, gathered in Pageant Field early Saturday evening for a tearful vigil in remembrance of Puppy Doe, a pit bull who had to be euthanized after it was found tortured a few weeks ago.
Dog and animal lovers were joined by Norfolk District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey, state Representative Bruce J. Ayers, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, as well as other officials. Together, they expressed grief and the need for the reform of state animal cruelty laws.
“We’re all heartbroken,” said Ally Baker, one of the five people who helped organize the vigil. “Heartbroken as a whole. It’s a thing out of nightmares.”
The pit bull dubbed Puppy Doe was found Aug. 31 in Quincy with blunt force trauma to the chest, burns, a stab wound to the eye, multiple face, skull, and vertebrae fractures, along with dislocated joints, said prosecutors.
People gathered around a small podium placed on the baseball field where Mary Nee, president of the Animal Rescue League of Boston, spoke to the group.
“Animal cruelty is reprehensible and cannot be tolerated in a humane and civil society,” she said, receiving applause as several dogs barked.
“I want to thank the organizers of this vigil for bringing us here together so that we can share our collective grief and come together to commit ourselves to seek justice for Puppy Doe and for all the animals that are neglected and abused.”
Nee said the rescue league had never seen such a horrific case of abuse. Many in the audience wept quietly and signs with photos of Puppy Doe and other dogs were waved in support throughout the crowd.
“We’re here today not just to mourn, although there is much to mourn, we are here because this kind of cruelty diminishes us as a society and diminishes us as a community,” said Morrissey. “It is highly unlikely that this level of sadistic cruelty, which I have referred to as torture, could be shown to one living creature and not to others.”
Morrissey said an ongoing and “vigorous investigation” was underway by the Quincy Police Department, Norfolk District Attorney’s office, and Animal Rescue League to find the abuser or abusers.
“The current laws in Massachusetts are not tough enough to protect our animals and that’s why we are here tonight,” said representative Ayers.
Ayers said he was sponsoring a new bill that would create harsher penalities and punish individuals who have tortured an animal in their custody.
Baker took the microphone and attempted to express her gratitude to those who attended and to law enforcement and legislators, but she broke down in tears and had to pause while a colleague read her remarks. She resumed her speech moments later.
“We’ve all cried together and felt this overwhelming sadness,” she said as her voice cracked and shook. “Let’s come together and change something.”
Among the crowd of people and dogs, Joe Montague of South Weymouth walked with JD, his 17-month-old Great Pyrenees mix.
“I’m 63 and have owned dogs all my life,” said Montague. “It’s horrific what happened to that dog. They’re mankind’s best friend.”
He pet JD with tears in his eyes and took a moment to gather himself. “If you can do that to a dog, what does that say about what you could do to people?”
Donations from supporters filled barrels outside the field’s entrance. Blankets, bags of food, cleaning supplies, toys, and dog treats were all given to be sent to five different area animal shelters, said Baker.
“We’re all just huge dog lovers,” she said. “We can’t turn our backs. That’s not how things get solved and that’s not how things change.”