Shelter owner files lawsuit against Dona Ana County after rescuing wounded dogs

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ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – In November 2015, Animal Village New Mexico in Alamogordo rescued 50 English bulldogs from a what deputies were investigating as a puppy mill in Las Cruces.

“There was a dog laying in her own blood, obviously dying,” said Sunny Aris in a 2015 interview.

The shelter’s owner, Sunny Aris said the conditions at the property where the animals were being bred were horrendous. And she claims the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office did not do an investigation into the property.

“Starving, neglected some aggressive, some sick, some wounded, some dying,” said Aris.

Aris said her shelter spent tens of thousands of dollars to care for the dogs, some needed multiple surgeries.

Two years later, Aris is suing three Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office employees for false information and threatening her rescue.

“Dona Ana County officials lied through their teeth,” said Aris.

She said Kelly Jameson, the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson, reported that Aris hindered the investigation by taking all the dogs off the property.

“Without any evidence to proceed with an investigation… no investigation could have happened,” said Jameson in 2015 during a KRQE News 13 interview.

No one was ever charged for the neglect, but Aris said they threatened to charge her for impeding an investigation.

“We were almost put out of business because of these rescues, because of the way Dona Ana County vilified us,” said Aris.

What keeps Aris going is that almost all the dogs are happy and healthy, adopted into homes across the country. But she’s still seeking justice for the injustice she said was done to her.

“I can’t undo what they said, but I can damn well bring a lawsuit against them to try and heal what they did to our shelter,” said Aris.

The shelter is a non-profit, and the owner is seeking more than $90,000 in damages and attorney fees. Aris said negative publicity from the reports affected donations coming into the shelter in order to rescue more animals.

The Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office declined to comment.

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