170 dogs unattended while in custody
CHAPARRAL, N.M. — About 170 dogs were believed to be unattended at a Chaparral property after the owner was arrested on battery charges and taken into custody late Friday night.
Felix Moriel, 44, was charged with with several offenses, including false imprisonment, battery, aggravated battery, indecent exposure, interferring with communication and resisting or obstructing a police officer.
On Monday, investigators and veterinarians were seen removing animals from Moriel's property on Alice Marie Drive, that according to court records included about 170 dogs.
The Otero County Sheriff's Department was first called to the home friday night after a 70-year-old woman reported Moriel assaulted her.
In a criminal complaint, the woman told investigators she went to Moriel for help burying a dead dog but he insisted they watch a Madonna concert on TV together before burying the animal.
The documents allege while inside the home, Moriel tried to grope the 70-year-old and exposed himself several times while refusing to let her go by pinning her down.
The records state she told investigators she convinced him to let her leave and as she tried making a phone call, he threw her phone across the property then he threw her on the ground dragging her back into the property.
The woman was eventually able to leave and called police from a neighbor's home.
Investigators said in the complaint the woman's car had the windshield broken and large amounts of feces inside.
Otero County Sheriff Benny House said that deputies had been called to the property many times, however once Moriel was taken into custody, they then had to check out the entire property.
House believes that the property may have been 'some sort of animal rescue' at one time and added one of his deputies was bitten by a dog at the property.
While officials obtained permission to enter the property, neighbors reported that several dogs fought with each other, resulting in the death of several dogs.
Deputies were able to contact a board member of the animal rescue, who then obtained a power of attorney from Moriel while behind bars, allowing officials to enter the property and deal with the numerous dogs.
Moriel is currently detained at the Otero County Detention Center on a $25,000 bond.