By Cheryl Fiandaca

BOSTON (CBS) – Last August, a Good Samaritan found a golden retriever in the Middlesex Fells reservation. She appeared to have been starved and was emaciated; her ribs and backbone clearly visible under her coat.

Police say she was abandoned by her owner just days after giving birth. “They use the dog to breed puppies and sell them for a profit and then just throw the dog away,” Lieutenant Paul Covino of the Medford Police said.

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A veterinarian at the Animal Rescue League called the dog’s condition one of the worst cases of malnutrition he had ever seen, telling the I-Team, that in addition to the protruding bones, all of the muscles in her face had wasted away. “[It’s the] cliché of skin and bones,” explained Dr. Kyle Quigley, the Medical Director for the ARL’s Community and Shelter Medicine program.

Dr. Kyle Quigley with golden retriever found in Middlesex Fells (WBZ-TV)

According to Quigley, the dog was between three and five years old and weighed only 36 pounds, which is about half of what she should weigh. “This didn’t happen overnight and most probably a deliberate act of malnutrition or starvation,” he said.

Medford Police, with the help of the Animal Rescue League and tip, tracked down the dog’s owner. Calling it a solid case, investigators shared video surveillance that they say shows Yinan Chen trying to dump the pup at a shelter in Lowell. Workers there took a photo of the skeletal dog in the back seat of Chen’s truck just hours before she was found in the Fells. Police were able to identify her as the same dog by the scar on her nose.

Twenty seven year old Chen who is now charged with animal cruelty and injury to an animal faced a judge in Somerville District Court Friday. The I-Team caught up with her outside the court room where we asked her about the allegations and if she was starving the dog. Chen only said she was not starving the dog and did not want to talk.

Police say this isn’t the first time Chen and her husband have been under investigation. Medford police say they’ve had incidents like this in other states.

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Yinan Chen in Somerville District Court (WBZ-TV)

The I-Team has learned in early 2018, a Providence, Rhode Island court ordered the Chens to stop selling puppies out of their home. Shortly thereafter, the couple moved to Wilton, New Hampshire where Chen’s husband was charged and convicted of animal cruelty. Months later, the pair moved to Andover where police say they were under investigation for allegedly selling sick puppies out of their apartment.

Andrea Dellacroce says her family bought one of those sick puppies from Chen after meeting her on Puppy Finder.

Andrea says her daughter Sophie’s first wish was for a dog. Ollie was a gift for the ten year old who just had a liver transplant.

Andrea said the family fell in love with him calling Ollie the sweetest puppy in the world. But just days after getting Ollie home, the family learned he has a life threatening heart defect.

Andrea said it was heartbreaking to find out about Ollie’s illness, especially after everything they had gone through with Sophie. But she also says he’s in good hands, the family is capable of handling medical diagnoses and Ollie is in the perfect family.

As for the golden retriever, she is now in foster care and is gaining weight. At last check she was nearly 55 pounds. Her caregivers say she is doing great, has a wonderful disposition and is on the road to recovery and will hopefully get a good home.

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Chen is due back in court in January. Police say their investigation is ongoing and more charges could be filed.

Cheryl Fiandaca