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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – KRQE News 13 shared a frustrated Albuquerque family who caught their neighbor repeatedly torturing their dog with a pellet gun. It seemed like a dead-end trying to get their neighbor to answer for what he did. The New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is now involved. The AG’s Office filed charges Monday against the neighbor. The AG’s Office says that getting extreme animal abuse cases to the courtroom should be a top priority for law enforcement.
Last month, Javier Baca said that he was trying to get justice after his next-door neighbor, David Wiegand, was caught on camera and later admitted to shooting the family’s dog, Rocket, with a pellet gun. Baca said it terrified his young children and left Rocket yelping in pain. “They can’t talk and tell you what is going on,” Baca said.
Baca said Albuquerque Police Department responded and passed the case off to Animal Welfare, who told him they weren’t moving forward with it. However, KRQE News 13’s report caught the attention of Attorney General Hector Balderas. “The attorney general reached out to me himself,” Baca said.
Balderas said his office has now filed felony animal charges against Wiegand. Balderas said the city’s response was unacceptable, and his office stepped in to make sure the case did not fall through the cracks. “Clearly, this is not how we should handle a case that is flailing in the justice system,” Balderas said. “Secondly, I became concerned because this case involves children.”
Balderas said APD is overwhelmed with calls, and the city needs more resources. He said he gave Animal Welfare access to special agents and victim advocates from the AG’s Office to turn the case around in a matter of weeks. Balderas said it is part of a new, broader effort by his office to combat animal cruelty statewide. “This type of extreme animal cruelty oftentimes presents red flags of more extreme violence to the community, so this is also a crime deterrent strategy,” Balderas said.
Baca said he feels Rocket is finally getting justice. “It is good to let people know they can’t get away with stuff like this,” Baca said. “Dogs are part of the family.”
Wiegand has been charged with extreme cruelty to animals and charges for the pellet gun. He is facing fines and jail time. Baca said Wiegand moved out about two weeks after KRQE News 13’s report aired.