Case Snapshot
Case ID: 20069
Classification: Hoarding
Animal: dog (non pit-bull)
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Friday, Sep 6, 2013

County: Otero

Charges: Misdemeanor
Disposition: Alleged

Alleged: Felix Moriel

A Chaparral man faces 156 counts of cruelty to animals stemming from an investigation of malnourished and dead dogs at an animal sanctuary in September of last year.

Felix Moriel, 44, has been charged in Otero County Magistrate Court with 156 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, according to court records obtained by the Daily News

Otero County Sheriff Benny House said his office obtained an arrest warrant for Moriel on Friday.

"The warrant is based off an incident that occurred on Sept. 6, 2013 where deputies had responded to Moriel's residence regarding an unrelated case," House said. "The warrant was based off of an affidavit identifying 156 counts of cruelty to animals, stemming from the Sept. 6 investigation."

The charges stem from an incident that occurred in September of last year when deputies responded to a residence on the 800 block of Alice Marie in Chaparral in reference to an unrelated incident.

The sheriff's office eventually obtained a warrant to search the property as part of an animal cruelty investigation, court records show.

Deputies found piles of dog feces, cages with no shelter, dead puppies in a freezer, malnourished and injured dogs and at least 12 dead dogs on the property in various stages of decomposition, according to court records.

Some of the dogs had their tails and ears torn off and suffered from leg injuries, records show.

"The sheriff's office had two concerns -- one the investigative part of the case," House said. "There were dead as well as injured dogs on the property, so we had a duty to investigate those animals, as well as the welfare of the remaining dogs. ... it was a pretty daunting task."

According to court records, many of the living dogs were in poor health, suffering from worms and injuries probably inflicted from fights over food.

Food had been left out in the rain and dog bowls had no water. Some food was spread out on trays which caused more dominant dogs to get food while weaker dogs were left without, records show.

Deputies reported an "overwhelming smell of death and decay which was apparent from the road," records show.

Moriel allegedly told investigators that he at one time had more than 400 dogs on his property, records show, and between more than 200 were found at the time of his arrest in September, House said.

Numerous people rescued about 128 dogs in various stages of bad health and neglect, according to records.

Moriel already faces charges from an incident the same day deputies initiated the animal cruelty investigation.

According to 12th Judicial District Court records obtained by the Daily News, Moriel is charged with one count of first degree felony kidnapping (or in the alternative fourth-degree felony false imprisonment), along with several misdemeanor counts of battery, aggravated battery, indecent exposure, interference with communications, injuring or tampering with a motor vehicle and resisting, evading or obstructing an officer.

Those charges stem from an incident where Moriel is alleged to have assaulted an elderly woman who sought his help in burying her dead dog, according to a previous Daily News story.

Moriel is jailed at the Otero County Detention Center in lieu of a $20,000 no-10 percent bond pending his appearance in court.

House said the case strained multiple resources in the county but members of the Chaparral, Anthony, El Paso and Alamogordo communities stepped up to help out with the case.

"The case was an exceptionally large case, and it strained the sheriff's office as well as other resources throughout the county," he said.


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