RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) - For more than two decades she's taken care of animals. Now Debra Clopton is accused of neglecting them.
Sandoval County animal control officers say the Rio Rancho woman has more animals than the law allows, neglected to have rabies vaccinations or licenses for them and didn't have proper shelter and shade.
Officers have cited Clopton, 47, three different times over the last year and a half. She is scheduled to go to trial Sept. 24th.
But Clopton isn't just another animal lover. She's been a licensed veterinarian since 1991.
Last year, KRQE News 13 detailed accusations against Clopton that included treating a cat and writing a prescription after her vet license had expired. In March, the New Mexico Board of Veterinary Medicine revoked her license because she failed to respond to two complaints.
On Wednesday, News 13 witnessed about eight animals in Clopton's backyard. And a few minutes later, a reporter and photographer heard dogs barking inside when five others were in the back yard.
The City of Rio Rancho allows five animals at a house unless the owner has a breeder's permit.
"We have found Mrs. Clopton somewhat uncooperative with our officers during our dealings with her," said Rio Rancho Police Sgt. Nicholas Onken.
All the neighbors, who all wanted to remain anonymous, said Clopton's dogs are a nuisance.
"They are very loud," said one neighbor who lives near Clopton.
The smell coming from Clopton's house is overwhelming, neighbors said.
"It smells terrible," said a next door neighbor. "It's terrible."
And they've seen a lot of dogs in her yard.
"I would call her an animal hoarder," said the neighbor. "She has about 15 animals, dogs."
Another neighbor said the dogs escape from the yard.
"The problem is one or two of them like to take off," said another neighbor. "Sometimes they take off with others. I've had the dog in my backyard."
Neighbors just want the situation to improve the entire neighborhood. They've had enough of the problems.
"She's bringing down the value of the neighborhood," said a neighbor.
The veterinary board reported Clopton to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Board of Pharmacy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to make sure she doesn't write any illegal prescriptions.
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