Woman facing charges after antifreeze found in dog’s system

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A couple’s dogs keep dying under questionable circumstances, but Animal Welfare said it can’t take the surviving animals from them. The city says in the most recent case, the dog died from neglect.

“Our main goal for any veterinarian professional is to ensure that we’re being advocates for our patients,” VCA Assistant Hospital Director Dana Espinoza said.

It was on Christmas that staff at the VCA off Montgomery called Animal Welfare about a dog so severely malnourished, they suspected it had been neglected.

According to the criminal complaint filed last week, Juanita Garcia and a man took the dog, named Nirvana, to the veterinary care animal hospital. Nirvana was reportedly comatose and had its ribs sticking out. Garcia chose to have it euthanized and a necropsy later showed the dog had gotten into antifreeze.

The report states the couple had previously brought in another dog to the clinic that reportedly died after it also stopped eating. An animal welfare officer later went to investigate possible neglect at the dog owner’s house.

“Our officers do a thorough case in investigating all calls,” Animal Welfare Department Field Supervisor Lt. Thomas Romero stated.

The couple’s two chihuahuas on the property were reportedly living amid debris on the floor and with a cage outside with wet bedding.

Despite knowing the owners’ animal history, Animal Welfare said all the officer could do was issue a criminal complaint; and tell the owner the dogs’ living conditions were “inappropriate” and that they needed dog houses outside.

“A condition like that can be as easy as a cleanup and helping them,” Romero explained. “But other than that, if it’s not detrimental, we can’t remove the animal unless we start seeing deterioration of health.”

Even then, the officer needs a warrant to take the animal. Animal Welfare adds that there’s no legal requirement for veterinarians to report suspected animal cruelty in New Mexico.

“There’s nothing in our HEART ordinance that states that they have to report and even with the New Mexico Board with Veterinarian rules and regs, there’s nothing stating that they have to. It just states that if they are to report it, then it’s not a violation of the confidentiality,” Romero said.

However, the veterinary hospital said it has an ethical standard to report neglect or abuse. 

“Calling AWD and letting them do their investigative process to see if there is true neglect or abuse,” Espinoza said.

Animal Welfare is not sure where the couple is getting their dogs. Garcia has a bond hearing on Feb. 13.

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