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Animal cruelty charges filed

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Malnourished animals taken away from couple

By Martin Salazar

An area couple, owners of a local animal grooming business, were arrested earlier this week on multiple counts of animal cruelty after authorities last month found horses, chickens, dogs and cats starving and living in filthy conditions.

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The animals were immediately removed from the  property in the area of San Miguel  after the New Mexico Livestock Board secured a court order from San Miguel County Magistrate Court.

Late last week an inspector with the Livestock Board filed criminal charges against Karla and Lonnie Kingery. They were arrested at their home on Tuesday and spent the night at the San Miguel County Detention Center before a judge signed a release order on Wednesday.

The Kingerys are each charged with two felony counts of extreme cruelty to animals and 13 misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals. A message left at their business, Crown Pacific Grooming, in Las Vegas, on Thursday wasn’t immediately returned.

“This is one of the worst (cases) we’ve had,” livestock inspector Matthew Romero said. “We can’t say it’s the worst, but it’s right up there.”

Romero said the message the public should take from this case is that if people find themselves in financial hardship with animals, they should get in contact with the Livestock Board  as soon as possible.

“We’ll try to find places they can get help,” he said. “We don’t like to see animals in this condition.”

Romero said that if they are unable to find help for an individual, they can find a home for their animals.

Documents filed in magistrate court last Thursday detail the deplorable conditions that authorities found when they were called to the Kingery home on Nov. 1.

Authorities say the property belongs to Karla Kingery.

Romero and San Miguel County Sheriff Benjie Vigil went out to the property. They discovered five malnourished horses, several dead chickens, which were in the same coop as live chickens and several dogs that appeared to be malnourished.

Authorities obtained and executed a seizure warrant on Nov. 2. The search revealed a dead horse under a pile of manure and 15 dead chickens in a pen.

“All appeared to have died from lack of feed, water and improper care,” Romero’s affidavit states. “Seized from the property were five horses which were in very poor condition from lack of feed, water and care. Twenty-two chickens were seized, which also appeared to be suffering from lack of feed, water and care.”

Authorities also removed six dogs that were in poor condition,  and a cat.

Romero states that the property and residence were in an unkempt state with debris and litter scattered throughout.

“Upon opening the door to the residence, we were met with a foul odor,” he wrote. “Through my experience and training I recognized the odor to be that of urine and feces. The odor appeared to be from the cats and dogs present throughout the residence.”

Romero noted that feces could be seen throughout the residence and cat and dog urine stains were also visible on the floor and furniture.

“Areas where horses are kept are devoid of vegetation, and trees have had the bark eaten off by the horses,” Romero’s affidavit states. “The sides of the barn showed signs of the horses gnawing on the building. One post on a stall had been completely gnawed through.”

Romero also states that one horse could be seen pawing at metal panels trying to get to a tub of dirty water in an adjacent pen.

“Four of the horses had no feed or water available,” the affidavit states. “One horse had dirty water available, but no feed.”

Romero states that the horse found buried under a pile of manure had no muscle mass, suggesting that it died from lack of feed and water. The horse had been dead about two weeks.

Two dogs were found in pens outside the barn and residence. One of the dogs was visibly malnourished, Romero states, adding that the other appeared to be blind and kept running into the walls of the pen. Neither dog had food or water, and the pens were in an unclean state, the affidavit states.

On Nov. 21, Magistrate Chris Najar found that the livestock and animals impounded had been subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment. He ordered that they be sold at fair market value and that if not sold that they be put up for adoption, placed in  an animal shelter or euthanized. Karla Kingery opposed the forfeiture of the animals.