Once Starved and Abandoned, Beatrice is Healthy and Loved

May 8, 2024


On June 12, 2023, after being alerted by the superintendent of a Manhattan residential building, NYPD officers discovered an emaciated brown-and-white female Boxer-mix abandoned in deplorable conditions inside an apartment.

Because the ASPCA Animal Hospital was closed for the day, officers took the dog to the Animal Medical Center (AMC), an ASPCA veterinary partner.

“At the AMC they noted she was 27.7 pounds dehydrated and emaciated,” says Dr. Laura Niestat, an ASPCA Forensic Veterinarian. “They placed an IV catheter and started her on intravenous fluids. By the time she came to us, her dehydration was resolved, but she was skeletal.”


Named Beatrice, the 3-year-old dog was admitted to the ASPCA on June 14. She weighed just over 30 pounds and had an emaciated body condition score of one on the Purina Body Condition System of one to nine, one being the thinnest score.

“Her ribs, backbone and pelvis were clearly visible, even from a distance,” says Dr. Niestat, who also noted Beatrice’s dirty hair coat, which had a foul odor from living in an unclean environment with prolonged exposure to urine and feces. She also suffered from skin allergies and her claws were overgrown.

Beatrice’s prior owner was arrested, and the case is currently pending in criminal court.

Re-feeding and Healing

Beatrice spent several days in the ASPCA Animal Hospital’s ICU, requiring continued IV fluids. She then moved to the ASPCA Animal Recovery Center where she was treated for diarrhea and dermatitis and cared for by a team of medical and support staff.

Dr. Niestat placed Beatrice on a re-feeding diet and vitamin therapy to slowly reintroduce food to her body and manage her transition from ‘survival metabolism’ — using her body tissue for nutrition — to a normal metabolism in which food can be ingested and absorbed. 

“The re-feeding diet is followed carefully to prevent re-feeding syndrome — a nutritional shock to the system — a serious medical condition that can occur when a malnourished dog is fed too much too quickly,” Dr. Niestat says.


Beatrice was initially fed small amounts of food that would not result in any significant weight gain.

“This was a period for her gastrointestinal tract to ‘relearn’ how to process food,” Dr. Niestat explains. “We consider the re-feeding period as a way for the gastrointestinal tract to regroup, restart and begin healing. A dog’s body needs time to transition back to a normal metabolism. We typically don’t feed anything fancy, just a balanced commercial brand dog food.”

Staff noticed how Beatrice tolerated all handling and looked forward to seeing them.

“I’m always amazed at how resilient and forgiving these dogs are,” says Dr. Niestat. “They hold no grudges.”

Road to Recovery

After two months of being fed the right amount of nutritious food, Beatrice weighed 46.6 pounds — a gain of 16.2 pounds, just over 53 percent of her body weight.

Views of Beatrice on June 12, left, and again on August 15 show how she gained weight.

“This was a lot,” Dr. Niestat says. “Often, emaciated dogs gain about 30 to 35 percent of their intake weight before reaching an ideal body condition. Even after gaining 16 pounds, Beatrice still had a few more to go.”

As Beatrice improved, she benefitted from behavioral enrichment and support at the ASPCA Canine Annex for Recovery and Enrichment (CARE).

“Very food motivated, she often ate her meals in puzzle feeders and loved playing with toys, especially ropes,” says Abby Coleman, Senior Manager of CARE Operations. “On walks outside, she was curious and enjoyed watching children play sports at a nearby park. At bathtime, she was extra wiggly, requiring two people to handle her — one would feed a steady stream of wet food while the other washed her.”


Beatrice’s main struggle was that she was stressed in her kennel and barked when other dogs passed by.

“She was reactive, but mostly what she wanted was attention,” says Joshua Abolt, a Behavior Specialist at the ASPCA Adoption Center. “We got creative in finding ways to distract her with toys, frozen Kongs or letting her spend time in people’s offices.”


On August 11, Beatrice went home with a foster caregiver, Keliese C. of Long Island City, to continue her recovery.

Making It Official

Keliese had wanted a dog for a long time, and fostering gave her an opportunity without making a permanent commitment.

A computer science student at NYU, Keliese is also a part-time nanny and sometimes takes Beatrice to work.


“She’s a very happy dog,” says Keliese, adding that Beatrice is smart — so smart she can sometimes open doors. She can also sit, give a paw and lie down.

Beatrice’s last recorded weight was on August 23, a day before she was spayed.

“She was just under 50 pounds,” says Jennifer Lander a veterinarian at CARE. “In 10 weeks, she had increased her body weight by nearly 78 percent.”


After six months, Keliese learned someone had inquired about adopting Beatrice. So, she decided to commit and on February 21, 2024, adopted Beatrice herself.

“After all that time, I didn’t want to let her go,” she says.