The Tragic Death of Chewy Caused by Neglect and Inaction


by Denise Carey-Costachewy

Winter has just begun and there are already multiple reports of dogs and cats left outside in freezing, blizzard like conditions. All the infomercials and news casts out there telling people to bring their pets indoors fall on deaf ears and they still leave them tied outside to die slow, miserable, painful deaths.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing, controversial stories to surface this winter is that of Chewy, a two year old small, 35 lb possible Poodle/Corgi mix dog that was left tied up outside in below freezing temperatures and blizzard conditions in Gobles, Michigan.

Chewy’s story made the news and got animal advocates as far away as Norway angered at his living conditions. But all the anger and all the pleas to local law enforcement, the local Animal Control Office, and the local SPCA to help Chewy and save him were not followed through aggressively enough and Chewy died.

Chewy’s plight was first noticed by a neighbor, LuAnn Arebalos-Portuondo who lived next door to the house on CR 29512 in Gobles, Michigan where Chewy was left tethered to a tree. There were no food or water bowls outside and no shelter from the elements. During the summer months LuAnn and her husband would see Chewy huddled up and sopping wet in the rain. There was a garage close by but Chewy’s owner would not allow Chewy to use it. Poor Chewy could be heard barking all night long in protest of his miserable living conditions. According to LuAnn it was very painful and sad to watch him suffer like this, no human interaction, not toys, nothing but a chain and a tree.

When winter arrived, Chewy was still left to his outdoor prison with no food and a frozen water bowl and no shelter from the bitter cold. LuAnn, fed up at Chewy’s living conditions contacted the Van Buren County Animal Control in October. They cited Chewy’s owner a ticket for not having his dog licensed and told him he needed to provide a shelter. The owner blatantly lied to the Animal Control Officer stating the dog did not have any food or water outside because the dog was brought indoors at night. The officer seemed satisfied with this answer went on his way.

Several weeks went by and still nothing was done to improve Chewy’s living conditions. November 7th 2014 brought in freezing sleet changing to snow for almost two full days. Chewy was left lying outside soaking wet and freezing. LuAnn and her husband were sure he was going to die out there. They decided to build a dog house for Chewy and took it over to the neighbor who didn’t seem to care either way whether the dog had shelter or not, neither did his two teenage sons. They never even came outside to see the doghouse or thank LuAnn and her husband.

LuAnn noticed once again the dog had no food. She brought over a bowl of food, a bowl of biscuits, a water bowl and a toy. After spending some time with him, Chewy cried pitifully when they left him. On Saturday November 8th, LuAnn noticed all of the bowls she had placed out there were gone. She witnessed the two teenage sons who lived there throwing bread scraps at Chewy. They could not throw them hard enough to get them close to Chewy so they kicked them at him. LuAnn, fed up at this obvious neglect and non-caring attitude on the part of the father and his teenage sons decided to call the Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office.

Animal Control arrived the next day and just drove up and down the driveway never even getting out of the car. The third time LuAnn’s husband called Animal Control stating the conditions of the dog had not changed and he was still not being cared for properly, no food or water. LuAnn went a step further and called the local news who referred her to the local SPCA. A representative came out bringing dog food, another dog house, straw and heated water bowls. The teenage boys didn’t like the idea of people telling them what to do with their dog. The heated dishes were left untouched and the straw was never used. It was obvious this family was going to do absolutely nothing to help their dog and apparently did not care that he was suffering.

LuAnn and her husband were sickened by their actions and beyond frustrated. They called Animal Control once again. This time the officer who came out took pictures of the house and Chewy’s condition. He confronted the two sons asking why there was food in the house but not in the food bowls. The family was issued a warning that if they got one more complaint the dog would be removed. LuAnn offered to pay the family for Chewy but the boys said no. The family was destitute and lived in filth and could have used the money.

That Monday a blizzard blew in with 19 degree temperatures, Chewy was still tied up outside. LuAnn tried to get a hold of the Animal Control officer who had issued the final warning to the family but he was unavailable. LuAnn then spoke to the Sheriff’s Office and told the sergeant if something wasn’t done the dog was going to die. His response was “a lot of dogs are going to die.”

LuAnn was livid at his heartless response and called on the assistance of the group Dogs Deserve Better in Smithfield, VA and pleaded with them to help her help Chewy. DDB is dedicated to saving animals like Chewy that are left chained outside with no human contact or care. Robin Budin of DDB took on the case and it went viral on social media. For days the lines were lit up at the Sheriff’s Office, Animal Control, the SPCA and the local news. People from all over the world were outraged at how this case was being handled and how a little dog was left to suffer on and on.

Animal Control came out and talked to the two teenage sons and Chewy was put into the garage for the first time ever. Then the Animal Control went over to LuAnn and her husband and yelled at them for filing all of the complaints and even threatened them with a lawsuit if it was discovered their reports were false. LuAnn was stunned at this response.

After Animal Control left, the boys opened the door to the garage and Chewy ran out. The boys chased him for about ten minutes when Chewy ran into the street and was hit by a car. The boys carried him into their house, he was either dead or dying. Animal Control did not pick him up until two days later. Why was he not given medical attention if he was still alive? If he was dead why did the family wait two days to have his body picked up? No one will ever know what went on it that house for those two days.

LuAnn still continues to fight for Chewy even after his passing by pushing for a law on the books called “Chewy’s Law.” The law would demand that dogs be brought inside if the temperature drops below 32 degree and mandate other requirements such as heated water bowl. Chewy’s family has retaliated against all of her allegations by saying they felt intimidated by what was happening to them and were fearful someone would steal their dog who was well cared for and loved by them. Sheriff’s deputies said they could find no signs of neglect or maltreatment. The SPCA said the dog had no frostbite and appeared to be an outdoor dog but well taken care of. So the County Commissioners did nothing to move Chewy’s Law forward.

The sad truth of the matter is; a dog was left to suffer with two irresponsible boys and a father who did not care. If their dog was so well cared for why was he left outside in inclement weather with only bread scraps kicked at him? Why did they not use the straw, food or heated dog bowls provided by the SPCA to make their dog’s living conditions more bearable since they loved him so much?

Reports were made over and over by LuAnn who was an eyewitness, it was not just hearsay, yet the agencies involved did not take an aggressive enough stance to intervene and save a suffering dog. He should have been removed after the first citation to provide Chewy with a decent shelter was not complied with. Chewy ran that day out of desperation in an attempt to escape his miserable life because no one else would save him from it, and he died trying to find freedom.

There is still a long, cold winter ahead and more dogs like Chewy will die unless people step forward on their behalf and don’t turn a blind eye to their plight, until the agencies responsible for the animals health and well being take a stronger stand for the voiceless and remove them immediately, not after they are dead.

Rest in peace dear Chewy, your suffering has ended. All we can do now is apologize for the human race that failed you so miserably.


This story was originally published on and is reposted here with the author’s permission.