Man Charged with Animal Cruelty Following New Canaan Dog’s Death Seeks a Form of Parole

The Darien owner of a now-shuttered, unlicensed pet boarding business—in whose care a New Canaan golden retriever died this summer from what veterinarians call extreme heat exposure—is seeking a form of parole.

Terence Burns. Photo courtesy of the Darien Police Department

An attorney representing Terry Burns, 44, charged Oct. 6 with animal cruelty, said during a hearing in state Superior Court in Stamford Thursday that his client is applying for “accelerated rehabilitation.”

It isn’t clear whether prosecutors and police with object to the application, how long an approved ‘AR’ would last or what its terms would be.

Judge John Blawie told the state’s attorney and Burns’s lawyer, criminal defense attorney Matthew Maddox, that the Darien man wouldn’t be allowed to have any pets as part of a possible future set of conditions, and that Animal Control officials would be notified of that stipulation.

Betsy Gammill of New Canaan. Contributed

The case was continued to Jan. 12.

A staid-looking Burns, wearing a white button-down shirt and green khakis, stood by and said little during the hearing. He spoke very briefly in the affirmative and in a strikingly high-pitched voice as a court official swore him in.

It marked Burns’s first appearance since his arrest nearly two months ago.

Investigators with the Darien Police Department found that dogs boarded at Terry’s House of Pets—located at Burns’s 259 Hoyt St. home—often were kept locked in a motor vehicle while he ran errands, were forced to compete for food tossed onto an unsanitary garage floor—in a room that was not climate controlled—and the animals never were let outside for fresh air or exercise.

Betsy Gammill of New Canaan. Contributed

When a young golden retriever died in his care in July, Burns appears to have lied to the dog’s New Canaan owner as well as to emergency veterinary workers and police, according to an arrest warrant application from Darien Police Officer Richard Flood.

Though Burns told the staff at Norwalk’s VCA Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center that the dog, Betsy, had “collapsed suddenly after playing outdoors,” that “did not make sense,” according to the testimony of vets cited by Flood in his application, signed by Stamford Superior Court Judge John Blawie.

Betsy Gammill of New Canaan. Contributed

“Evidence indicates this golden retriever died of heat stroke, some time before arriving deceased at the emergency hospital,” it said.

Betsy’s owner, New Canaan resident Mimi Gammill, were in the courtroom during Burns’s appearance, as was another former client of Terry’s House of Pets, town resident Susan Slocum, and two women from Desmond’s Army. Taking up the cause following the death of a dog named ‘Desmond’ that was beaten, starved, strangled and dumped by his owner, the organization helped advocate for a law that Connecticut enacted last year, allowing judges to appoint lawyers as advocates for dogs and cats in cases of cruelty, abuse and neglect.


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