FOX 13 was told by Jayden Dufford that he came home to Rock Springs just before Christmas. He was coming home to difficulties because of a split with his girlfriend and his family was with him due to his clothes already being packed in bags.
“I did not realize how bad it was going to be when I walked in,” he said.
His sister and a police officer accompanied him to the house after talking with his girlfriend.
“My brother asks her, ‘Where are the dogs?’ and she says, ‘In the bathroom,’ and I’m like, ‘What? Why are they in the bathroom?'” According to Brooklynne Dufford, who came from Fort Collins, Colorado to help him move.
When Brooklynne walked into the bathroom, she found the two dogs inside.
“Maxy was on the ground by the door, and he was jumping all over me,” she described. “I just started crying, and I was trying to look around for the other one.”
She saw Angel when she looked in the bathtub.
“I screamed bloody murder, ‘I think one of them is dead!'” she told FOX 13 in a video interview from Wyoming.
“[Angel] was lifeless, hanging on to dear life, was just skin and bone not moving,” Jayden said. “We thought she was dead.”
Brooklynne grabbed Maxy and took him to the car. Jayden stayed with the other dog in the bathroom, thinking that the dog was already dead. When his mother came in to console him, she saw that Angel was moving.
“I carried my best friend out to the car to give her the love and the care for the night that she lived,” he said.
In an effort to save some money because of the high cost of visiting the vet on an emergency, they used formula and food suggested by vets they had contacted. They decided to take Angel to the vet the next morning but she died on the way.
“I watched her suffer from internal bleeding because of how bad she was starved,” Brooklynne said.
The Rock Springs Police Department reported that Lauryn Burge was watching the dogs while Jayden was on basic training. She has been charged with cruelty to animals, carrying a possibility of six months in jail and a fine of up to $750. Burge pleaded guilty according to Rock Springs Municipal Court and is waiting for sentencing on January 21.
FOX 13 tried to get a comment from Lauryn Burge and she responded:
“Jayden Dufford got the puppies for his birthday a week before he left for basic training. We talked about re-homing them before he had left because of the fact our combined incomes made it hard to survive with us and my son. The dogs were skinny when we got them and Jayden said he would train them before he left. Shortly after he left I lost my job at Wendy’s and was looking for work. I could barely pay our bills and was late on rent because the rent was due the first and his checks did not come in till around the tenth. I used his two checks a month on rent and our phone bill because that was all we could afford. I got assistance for food and my son’s formula. I got a new job and still barely made enough to afford all our bills. I asked for someone to take the puppies since I could not afford them and our bills. I fed them every day when I fed my two cats Bella and Sam. Around October my cat Sam escaped and I let everyone know that he was missing. He had gotten out because the door to our apartment did not close completely and our landlord knew about it. I used any money we made for my son and to keep the apartment we were living in. I even moved in new roommates to help and they were looking for jobs while I was working. During November I called a vet several times for advice because the dogs would not gain any weight and were barely keeping wet food down. The vet told me to try different foods and to keep them updated. We tried six different dog food brands and they still were not gaining weight. We set up an appointment for them for when I got paid.”
After the story circulated on social media, the state of Wyoming’s animal cruelty laws is under the spotlight.
“In a lot of states, that sort of neglect or abuse resulting in death would be a felony. In Wyoming, it’s less clear,” said David Rosengard, a senior staff attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund. “Felonies are hard to reach for animal cruelty in Wyoming and much harder in Wyoming than many other states.”
Wyoming House of Representatives made the move in 2019 to add language on a bill that may have added harsher penalties to animal cruelty cases. Prior to the time that it reached the Senate, it was modified.
“Animals are living, breathing creatures. They’re not objects, they’re not like tables or chairs,” Rosengard said. “We want to protect them and make sure they don’t suffer and experience cruelty.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up for the veterinary bills for Maxy if you would like to donate.
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