Princess was 80 pounds of St. Bernard-collie mix when Maryann Adams adopted her from the Warwick Valley Humane Society last summer.
Princess was 30 pounds of frozen carcass seven months later, and Adams was under arrest. The 33-year-old from Greenwood Lake was arraigned in Warwick Town Court on a misdemeanor charge of failure to provide sustenance to an animal.
Princess's eyes were matted shut. She had no food in her digestive tract. A veterinarian told Orange County Sheriff's Investigator David Ayers that an infection had invaded Princess' uterus.
"The doctor said it took a two- to three-month period for the dog to be in this condition. He said it was a very agonizing death," said Ayers, who began an investigation after he got a complaint from the Humane Society.
Neighbors told the Humane Society that Adams left water just outside the dog's reach, and that she took the top off the doghouse when it rained.
"It seems to me that this abuse started right when she got the dog, that this was deliberate and intentional and that she was really tormenting this animal," said Suzyn Barron, the director of the Humane Society.
The society finds homes for 150 to 200 dogs a year, usually without a problem. "Most of the time, people get in touch when they're having a problem. We work with them," Barron said. "In some cases, if it's not working out, we take the animals back."
In Adams' case, "There was no reason to think she wouldn't be able to care for this dog."
But on Feb. 1, one of Adams' neighbors called the Humane Society to say that Princess was in distress. Workers from the Humane Society went to Adams' house and rang the bell.
When they got no answer, Barron said, they walked around back. Princess was motionless in her doghouse. The workers took Princess' body back to the shelter, and Ayers took the case.
He interviewed the neighbors, consulted with prosecutors and arrested Adams at her home yesterday. She was arraigned before Warwick Town Justice Peter Barlet and released on her own recognizance.
She's due back in court on April 17. She faces up to a year in jail.
Barron recalls getting a phone call from Adams the day after Princess' body was recovered. Adams told her she was a single mother raising three kids.
"Basically," Barron recalled, "Her question to me was 'Well, what can I do now?' "