SANTA FE (KRQE) - There are new developments in the case of the former veterinarian found with dozens of dogs inside her home.
First, Debra Clopton was was arrested on drug charges; now she faces of long list of animal-cruelty charges.
A criminal complaint outlines dozens of counts of misdemeanor animal cruelty, one count for each of the 48 dogs taken from one property , a roundup that has overwhelmed the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.
If convicted on all counts, Clopton faces almost 48 years in prison.
Forty-five dogs from one cruelty case are still at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter. In the last week, three others had to be euthanized. They were all seized from Clopton's Edgewood home.
"The information that we had, the evaluation of the animals, it was deemed more appropriate that we file these charges," said Major Ken Johnson of the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office.
Last week, sheriff's deputies served a warrant to seize the dogs, some of which appeared to have health issues. One group of seven pups were just a week old when they were brought there.
Santa Fe County ordinance allows no more than 10 dogs. Johnson described the conditions at the home as filthy.
Shelter officials said so far, they have spent more than $7,000 to care for the dogs for the last eight days.
"Forty-eight dogs coming in our door under any circumstance would be a lot, but 48 dogs that we have to hold longer than the average time, which is generally between five and seven days, is a huge stressor," shelter Executive Director Mary Martin said.
Clopton was originally arrested on drug-related charges after deputies found euthanol euthanasia, a Schedule III controlled substance. She had her veterinary license revoked a year ago, but investigators also found receipts, and billing information in her home.
With the new animal cruelty charges on top of that, her troubles continue to mount.
The county has filed a petition in District Court, and Clopton may have to pay back the county for shelter costs.
"Any time you have that amount of animals, it's extremely difficult to care for them, so that's why there's an ordinance that's passed," said Johnson. "It also causes a burden to the surrounding community."
Johnson revealed the case was brought to their attention by Clopton's neighbors calling in noise complaints.
Although the shelter has been overwhelmed housing the dogs as evidence, shelter officials said they've gotten lots of help from the community.
"The support from the community is incredible," Martin told KRQE News 13. "Everything from hot dogs to cash to blankets to space in their boarding facilities to space in their shelters.
"Boy, emergencies bring out the best in us. It's just incredibly humbling, and it continues."
Martin said shelter workers use the hot dogs as special treats to try and help the dogs connect with humans.
"If they start to make that connection that this yummy thing comes from that person all of a sudden they go, 'Ah, maybe I should approach,' and once they start approaching we're there," she said. When she put out a call for donations on Facebook, she said she received a truckload of hot dogs.
Ultimately socializing the otherwise sheltered dogs from Clopton's home could mean the difference between life or death in potential adoptions.
There will be an emergency hearing on Monday in District Court where a judge will decide if Clopton will pay back the county for housing the seized dogs. Shelter officials said if the court gives them custody of the dogs, they're confident they can adopt them out.
As far as the drug charges, those were dismissed in Magistrate Court, but the District Attorney is in the process of testing the drugs and refiling those charges in District Court.
Officials reported Clopton's foreclosed home in Rio Rancho as filthy and occupied by cats still left behind.
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