NW DC Woman Arrested for Cruelty to Animals
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Humane Rescue Alliance

NW DC Woman Arrested for Cruelty to Animals

Maria Helena Dias of Washington, DC, was arrested Monday by the Metropolitan Police Department and charged with seven counts of cruelty to animals following an investigation by Humane Rescue Alliance (HRA) humane law enforcement officers.

On August 17, HRA’s Humane Law Enforcement (HLE) department received calls from a witness regarding animals in poor condition being drowned by a woman at a NW DC address. Subsequently, a video was sent to HLE that depicts a woman bathing seven Shih Tzu-type dogs in a deep Rubbermaid type container. The woman was roughly handling the dogs, striking them and throwing them in the water. 

DC Animal Control Officer Jesien and Metropolitan Police arrived at the scene and located the woman from the video, who identified herself as Maria Helena Dias. During a discussion, Dias admitted to bathing the dogs and striking them.

HLE Officer Ingle arrived several minutes later to find seven Shih Tzu-type dogs with inflamed skin and significant hair loss, consistent with mange, a severe skin condition, caused by either the dogs being immunocompromised or from scabies. Four of the dogs had clouded eyes and all seven dogs had extremely elongated and curled nails. Urine and feces were present in the room where the dogs were kept. HRA officers recommended immediate veterinary care for the dogs or surrender of the dogs. Dias declined, and officers then impounded the seven dogs and transported them to an emergency veterinarian.

Veterinarians determined all seven of the dogs had severe sarcoptic mange, commonly referred to as scabies which is highly contagious to other animals as well as humans. Veterinarians determined that the dogs had been in this condition for several months. The dogs suffered from various conditions, including mite infestation, immunosuppression, severe hair loss, and untreated corneal ulcers. Due to the extent of their medical conditions, the dogs remained in emergency treatment.   

By September 7, 2018, most of the dogs were considered healthy and were recovering. However, one dog was humanely euthanized due to the inability to support blood glucose levels. During a necropsy, it was noted that the euthanized dog had severe sarcoptic mange, lymphoma, and a secondary bacterial infection.

The six surviving dogs have remained in the care of the Humane Rescue Alliance or have been adopted. Dias was arrested at home. Following the arrest, Dias was arraigned, given a status hearing date and released.  She was also given an order to stay away from animals.