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Tuesday, Nov 1, 2011County: Bernalillo
Alleged: John A. Williams
A pet owner accused of leaving her two dogs trapped inside a house for months without food and water will not face felony criminal charges, according to the City of Albuquerque.
John Williams, who also goes by Vanessa Gutierrez, is accused of animal cruelty after the city discovered her two dogs starving, in poor health, and near death in a northeast Albuquerque home. The city confiscated the dogs in November and they are now on a protective hold in the city's animal shelter.
Greg Wheeler, Assistant City Attorney, referred the criminal case to the District Attorney's Office, but this week learned the DA cannot prosecute the case as a felony citing New Mexico's laws aren't strong enough to ensure a conviction.
"I was disappointed," Wheeler said. "When I looked at the law and compared it to other states, I saw (New Mexico) was behind the times and we weed to get our statutes amended."
The city has the legal jurisdiction to prosecute misdemeanor cases. Wheeler plans to take Gutierrez's case to court prosecute her on four misdemeanor charges, which include neglect of an animal and failure to provide food and water for a pet.
"It's disappointing to me that starving an animal to death does not result in a felony in New Mexico," Wheeler said. "I can't believe that. I'm very disappointed, but that's that state of our laws."
Gutierrez is still the legal owner of the dogs. Wheeler said in order for them to be adopted out, Gutierrez must surrender them or a judge must order her to give them up.
Staff at the city's animal shelter reported the health of the dogs have improved since arriving.
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