Animal cruelty suspects found in Utah, cases now moving forward

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DES MOINES, N.M. – We are one step closer to seeing justice for dozens of dogs in our state.

KOB 4 first reported about a horrific animal cruelty investigation in Union County last year. Sheriff’s deputies and the ASPCA took more than 40 dogs from a home and found more than 70 dead.

They charged Jessica Duncan and Hayden Briesh, 19 and 21 at the time, with multiple counts of extreme cruelty to animals.

The young couple has been on the run since June 2022, and authorities in Utah tracked them down weeks ago and ordered them back to New Mexico.

Alan Edmonds, an animal cruelty program director with Animal Protection New Mexico, says under state law, cruelty to animals is an act of neglect. Extreme cruelty goes a step further.

“Extreme animal cruelty is deliberately or maliciously harming an animal. So the big difference is intent,” said Edmonds. “I think that especially bringing the ASPCA in, I’m sure that they have gathered as much evidence as was possible.”

Duncan and Briesh both made their first appearances in Union County, and their cases are moving forward. If convicted, they would face jail time and fines.