Charges dropped against brother in pit bull animal cruelty case

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Prosecutors dropped a felony animal cruelty charge and a neglect of a resident charge against John Lopez this week. He and his brother, Michael Lopez, were charged after Bernalillo County deputies found more than fifty neglected pit bulls and the brothers’ elderly mom in “very unsanitary” conditions last month.

Dropped charges spark questions for Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen.

“First reaction is, ‘Did our detectives or deputies include everything that needs to be in the criminal complaint?’ A lot of different things and variables are going on when it comes to a case this intricate,” said Allen.

Investigators say John Lopez reported concern about the condition of the home, the dogs, and his elderly mom’s welfare in May. They say he also provided videos from inside the home the week before deputies seized the animals.

“We’re still building the case,” said Allen. “So we want to make sure that it’s strong, and then it goes through.”

Allen says the state’s current animal welfare laws aren’t making that job any easier.

“We need to look at the laws and probably update them,” Allen said. “I don’t think they’re strong enough at all. A lot of these animal cruelty cases go into different felonies, whether it’s elderly abuse, again, a violent crime, homicides, we need to make sure that our lawmakers are aware of the cases that go on every day.”

15 deputies in BCSO have shown interest in the Animal Cruelty Task Force, compared to four when the task force was active a few years ago.

Allen just approved training for all of them, so they’ll complete that and have other professionals in established animal groups for guidance.

“We have a lot of people calling with pending cases that we know are out there, we’re just making sure we have the resources to make sure that we can follow through on those cases,” said Allen. “We’re going to find so much other crime and we know it’s coming.”