Arrest warrant affidavit issued more than two weeks after remains of caged pit bulls were found at Bully Breed Rescue president’s home
FAIRFIELD, Connecticut––An arrest warrant affidavit has been at last been issued for Bully Breed Rescue president Heidi E. Lueders, 31, of Fairfield, Connecticut, police lieutenant Robert Kalamaras told media on November 29, 2018.
The warrant affidavit was issued 15 days after Fairfield police responding to a complaint from Lueders’ landlord found the skeletonized remains of five caged pit bulls, accumulated feces and refuse, and alleged evidence of heroin use at Lueders’ rented home.
Bond set, but Lueders not in custody
The case became public knowledge through media reports on November 18, 2018.
A Bridgeport Superior Court judge reportedly set bond of $50,000 for Lueders, but at the end of the day Lueders was apparently not yet in custody.
Kalamaras told media that “The Fairfield Police Detective Bureau is currently coordinating the terms of her surrender.”
Five counts of cruelty, one of property damage
Lueders, when apprehended, is to be charged with five counts of cruelty to animals and one count of first degree criminal damage to a landlord’s property by a tenant.
Conspicuously absent from the charge list was anything pertaining to illegal drug use and/or misuse of funds donated to Bully Breed Rescue, both of which have been extensively alleged on social media by former associates of Lueders.
Bully Breed Rescue founder Benedicta “Bennie” McGrath, for instance, posted to the ANIMALS 24-7 web site on November 19, 2018 that Lueders “developed a heroin addiction using donated funds.”
No mention of alleged accomplices
McGrath, an attorney formerly practicing in New Canaan, Connecticut, incorporated Bully Breed Rescue in 2005. Lueders became involved in 2007. McGrath retired to Florida in 2013, turning the presidency of Bully Breed Rescue over to Lueders, whose mother Peggy Anderson Lueders joined the Bully Breed Rescue board of directors.
Also conspicuously absent from the Fairfield Police announcement is any mention of alleged accomplices, despite numerous social media postings by people purporting to have had prior knowledge that Heidi Lueders had become a heroin addict and had lived in filth comparable to what was found in Fairfield at a prior address in Stamford, yet had continued to participate in Bully Breed Rescue business with her.
Lueders was arrested twice in 2015, for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief in April in Stamford, and for third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and second-degree reckless endangerment in August in New Canaan, in an incident in which a 22-year-old woman was bitten by one of Lueders’ pit bulls.
The disposition of the charges in the two cases seems not to have been published. The Fairfield Police announcement also did not mention violations of any previous probationary sentencing.
Checked herself into mental hospital
The Animals R Family rescue page on Facebook on November 19, 2018 reported that “Heidi Lueders checked herself into Silver Hill Hospital last night in New Canaan, Connecticut. This is a very expensive drug addiction and psychiatric hospital in a very rich town,” Animals R Family said, “where her parents live. This facility has been used by celebrities including Catherine Zeta Jones, Mariah Carey, Michael Jackson and Billy Joel.”
The self-hospitalization may explain why Heidi Lueders has not already been brought into custody of law enforcement.
Added the Animals R Family rescue page on Facebook, after the arrest warrant affidavit was issued, “Celly Roberts,” also identified as Claire Roberts, “is the property owner who rented out her home to Heidi. Heidi has been renting this house since 21st Sept 2017 and paid a rent of $2250 a month, though in the last few months she had fallen behind.”
On November 11, 2018, according to the Animals R Family account, “Heidi texted Celly saying that the heat had not been working for a few days. Celly sent out a plumber that night, but he could not fix the problem. Heidi was home at the time, but the plumber only saw the basement. The plumber could hear dogs barking, who turned out to be Heidi’s two personal dogs, who were alive and living” at the house among the remains of the dead dogs and other detritis.
Lueders had two days’ warning
The next night, Animals R Family said adding detail to previously published reports, Roberts returned with another repairman, finding “an ocean of garbage, junk, heroin packs, needles, trash, dog feces and dog urine everywhere. The TV was on and a space heater was on. At that point, Celly did not see the decomposed dogs, as there was so much garbage and junk. Celly called the police immediately due to the heroin and needles. The police came to the house, but were unable to enter as they did not have a warrant.”
Roberts informed Heidi Lueders by text message, according to Animals R Family, that she would return to inspect the premises on November 14, 2018. This would have given Lueders at least two full days in which to remove evidence, but apparently this was not done.
Dead reptiles too
Roberts found the first four dead dogs on the afternoon of November 14, 2018. Police found one more, closed in a room rather than locked in a cage, later that evening.
“There was also a dead snake and [another] dead reptile,” Animals R Family said, speculating as to whether Heidi Lueders might also have had something to do with the unsolved May 2018 discovery of “a severely emaciated black and white pit bull found floating in a boat slip at the city-owned Czescik Marina in Stamford.”
“Boxes full of dog food, treats”
The remains would have been dumped at about the same time Lueders told Bully Breed Rescue associates that she had placed four of the pit bulls who were found dead at a sanctuary, and that the fifth was in a foster home, according to a statement posted on November 18, 2018 by Bully Breed Rescue vice president Chris Antolini.
“Incredibly, the yard of the house [where the five skeletonized pit bulls were found] was in perfect condition and Heidi had guys coming to mow regularly,” Animals R Family said. “There were Amazon boxes full of dog food, toys, treats, coats, beds, costumes, etc.
“About 10 months ago, a neighbor had called the Fairfield Health Department about a horrible stench. The health department person walked around the perimeter and said everything was fine,” Animals R Family added.
“She got out of it every time”
No dead dogs were reported found at Heidi Lueders’ previous dwelling, an apartment on Hope Street in Stamford, Connecticut, but former neighbor Donna Joy Fullenwider posted a string of comments to the Animals R Family page on Facebook indicating that comparable conditions might have prevailed there.
“I lived downtown stairs from her on Hope Street,” Fullenwider said. “I heard dogs crying all night when I came home. Being a bartender I get home late. The smell in the hallway was horrific. What makes me sick to my stomach is that I called the Stamford Police Department at least five times. They didn’t do anything. She got out of it every time.”
Stamford has slack history on pit bull law enforcement
Coincidentally, District Superior Court judge Gary White on January 31, 2018 admitted former Stamford Animal Shelter manager Laurie Hollywood, 46, to an accelerated rehabilitation program and allowed her to serve only one day in the program before walking free with no criminal record.
Summarized John Nickerson of the Stamford Advocate, “Hollywood was charged in 2014 with three reckless endangerment charges after police found she downplayed or failed to disclose the biting history of three dogs adopted from the city’s shelter who went on to bite again.”
The charges were reduced, however, when one alleged victim refused to testify and evidentiary problems developed pertaining to another alleged victim.”
“Follow the dogs!”
Posting in memory of Prancer, a pit bull found dead at Heidi Lueders’ rented home who had been “pulled” from the Animal Care Center in Brooklyn, New York, pit bull rescuer Rachel Bennette urged fellow rescuers to “Follow the dogs that you see pulled and ‘safe,’ know where your donation money is going, and understand why you will often hear those who have been doing this for a long time say that there are worse things than death by euthanasia.”
Most social media responses to the Lueders’ case have centered on expressions of outrage and suggestions, going far beyond legal limits, of what the posters believe would be an appropriate sentence for her, not necessarily following conviction after a fair trial.
How did Lueders slip into double life?
Many others, however, have questioned how and why Lueders slipped from her former status as one of the most prominent pit bull advocates in the Northeast into leading an apparent double life, fundraising in the name of rescue while pit bulls allegedly starved to death in her custody.
Reality, though, is that Heidi Lueders fell into a life of mendacity from the day she took up the pit bull cause, beginning to utter at every opportunity such demonstrably false shibboleths as that pit bulls are not inherently more dangerous than other dogs, and that pit bulls were never bred to be human-aggressive, overlooking centuries of use in dismembering runaway slaves and attacking Native Americans.
Factually false claims
Factually false claims have characterized pit bull advocacy for as far back as it can be traced.
19th and early 20th century fighting dog breeder John P. Colby, for instance, practiced gross mendacity in rebranding his cull dogs “Staffordshire terriers” and promoting them for sale as safe family pets, even after one of them in 1909 killed Colby’s two-year-old nephew, Bert Colby Leadbetter.
Then-Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America president Lilian Rant practiced mendacity in fabricating from whole cloth the myth of pit bulls ever having been “nursemaid” or “nanny dogs” in a 1971 interview with Walter R. Fletcher of the New York Times.
Lueders & Michael Vick
Heidi Lueders became involved in pit bull advocacy at about the same time that the American SPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Maddie’s Fund, and the Humane Society of the U.S., among other humane organizations, escalated their involvement in promoting pit bulls at any risk to truth and public trust, in the wake of the April 2007 arrest of football player Michael Vick for involvement in dogfighting.
Heidi Lueders found her calling as a “rescue angel” amid a subculture celebrating dishonesty to the extent of leading animal charities actually teaching shelter workers to conceal the attack history and breed identity of dogs offered for rehoming.
Those multi-million-dollar-a-year organizations, not just Lueders’ own friends, family, volunteers, and donors, were and are her primary “enablers,” by promoting the fiction that shelterless rescuers can somehow safely rehome almost every cast-off pit bull, with no need for breed-specific legislation to reduce the numbers of pit bulls born only to fail in home after home.
The ASPCA, Best Friends Animal Society, Maddie’s Fund, the Humane Society of the U.S., et al, have also been the unacknowledged primary enablers for hundreds of other failed “rescuers” over the past decade.
Together those failed “rescuers” have cumulatively caused the miserable deaths of thousands of times more “rescued” pit bulls than Heidi Lueders, albeit much less flamboyantly––and that is just in the cases, logged by ANIMALS 24-7, which have been discovered and prosecuted.
(For recent stats, see “Rescue hoarding” cases horrify Iowa.)