By Cheryl Fiandaca

BOSTON (CBS) – An I-Team investigation that involved a golden retriever that was found nearly starved to death in the Middlesex Fells two years ago has a happy ending. At that time, veterinarians said the dog was skin and bones, with every vertebra showing under her thin coat of fur. Police charged a woman with the abuse. As for the pup – she faced a long uncertain road to recovery. Animal abuse stories don’t usually have a happy ending for the animal, but this one does.

Looking at Eleanor, healthy and happy, frolicking in the waves at Hampton Beach, you’d never know what she had been through.

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Mandy Pleshaw, who first fostered then adopted Eleanor, says she has only shown her love and kindness.

The golden retriever has come a long way since the I-Team first met her in 2019. At that time, she had just been found abandoned, starved and emaciated in the Middlesex Fells. She weighed just 36 pounds, half of her normal body weight. Dr. Kyle Quigley, the medical director for the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s Community and Shelter Medicine Program, told us Eleanor was “one of the worst cases of starvation and malnutrition I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been at the ARL for seven years.”

Medford Police say she was dumped in the Fells by her owner, Yinan Chen, who was using the dog to breed puppies. Detectives, using surveillance video, tracked down Chen and charged her with animal cruelty. The I-Team caught up with Chen outside court, where she denied starving the dog.

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But this wasn’t the only time Chen and her husband had been under investigation. In 2018, a Rhode Island judge ordered the Chens to stop selling puppies. Months later, the couple moved to New Hampshire, where Chen’s husband Zhiwei was charged and found guilty of animal cruelty.

Eleanor is just now recovering from the abuse she endured. Mandy says she fell in love with the pup while she was a volunteer at the ARL and is hoping there will be justice for what happened to Eleanor. She plans to bring her to court for Chen’s trial.

“What happened to Eleanor should never happen to another dog again,” Mandy said.

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We reached out to Somerville District Court for the status of Chen’s case and were told she did not show up for her July court date. There is a warrant for her arrest.

Cheryl Fiandaca