Created: 01/01/2014 10:38 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4
A viewer sent KOB Eyewitness News 4 a shocking Facebook photo of a woman holding a puppy by the scruff of its neck, and holding a rifle to its head.
The viewer says the picture was taken near Pecos.
The photo may be upsetting, especially if you love animals like Mary Martin.
"Your first reaction, of course, I think it's reasonable to say would be anger," said Martin.
But is it enough for criminal charges?
Martin is director of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.
She sees more than a scared puppy in the photo.
Martin says -- hard as it is to admit -- she feels just as sorry for the girl as she does for the pup.
"I think there's something much more deeply psychological than just what you see in the picture," said Martin.
It's only recently Martin says photos have started popping up alongside abuse cases.
She says 9 times out of 10 there will be no photographic evidence, and whatever is going on in that house, Martin says, this photo may not be enough to prove it.
New Mexico lawmakers have been clear, animal cruelty is defined as negligently mistreating, injuring, or killing an animal without lawful justification.
In order to be charged with anything, the young woman in the photo has to have taken her actions a step further.
The San Miguel County Sheriff says he's trying to identify her, and will investigate the case.
"It makes us want to work that much harder to help people understand what's so wrong about that," said Martin.
Martin says she'll keep working to educate kids about treating animals with respect, and she hopes moms and dads will, too.
"I think one of the most important things that we can teach our kids, is that, just because something looks different from you are doesn't mean it doesn't feel pain," she said. "They have very similar feelings to what we have."