Woman faces charges in 2 dogs’ deaths in Lawrence

A Lawrence woman is facing felony animal cruelty charges after officers discovered an emaciated pit bull — as well as a dog that had been dead for at least a week — in her home earlier this month, the MSPCA said.

Raisa Reyes, 26, will be arraigned in Lawrence District Court on Nov. 28 in the deaths of a one-year-old Havanese dog named Niko and the starvation and eventual death of Jada, the pit bull, authorities said. Jada was later humanely euthanized, the MSPCA said.

On Oct. 4, Lawrence animal control officer Ellen Bistany received an anonymous complaint about a dead dog in an apartment on Congress Street. Accompanied by MSPCA officer Martha Parkhurst, she approached Reyes’s apartment and immediately noticed a foul odor coming from it, according to a Lawrence police report.


The home was described as “cluttered, unkempt, and dirty” and the floor was covered with clothes, wet, and smelled of urine and a foul odor, the report said. Reyes shared the apartment with her two children, who were in school at the time, police said.

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Reyes told officers that she had a very sick dog that would not eat, and could not afford a veterinarian. She also said she had “gotten rid” of a second dog that died by strangling itself in a cord that morning, the report said.

Bistany then discovered the ill pit bull while Parkhurst continued to interview Reyes.

“The dog appeared so weak that it could not stand for that long and would fall to the floor several times as I was observing the dog,” Bistany wrote in the report, adding that the ribs and hip bones were clearly visible.

The dead dog was then found in a plastic garbage bag in the apartment. The bag also contained feces and a plastic window shade, the report said. Reyes surrendered the dogs to the MSPCA.


A necropsy was performed on the dead dog, said MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin. Jada was taken to the MSPCA at Nevins Farm in Methuen. A Doctors determined she was at least 30 pounds underweight and severely dehydrated and decided to euthanize her, Halpin said.

Under state law, animal cruelty is punishable by up to five years in a state prison or up to 2½ years in a house of correction and a possible fine of up to $2,500.

Sarah N. Mattero can be reached at sarah.mattero@