PETA Calls for Jail Time, Psychological Evaluation for Chaparral Man Charged With 156 Counts of Cruelty to Animals

Dead and Dying Dogs Living in Filth, Puppy Corpses in Freezer at ‘Sanctuary’ Warrant Tough Prosecution, Says Group

For Immediate Release:
February 14, 2014

Moira Colley 202-483-7382

Chaparral, N.M.

This morning, PETA sent an urgent plea to Otero County District Attorney Diana Martwick urging her office to prosecute Felix Moriel of Chaparral to the fullest extent of the law. Moriel faces 156 counts of cruelty to animals stemming from a September 2013 raid on his Mission Desert Hills Sanctuary during which officials reportedly found an estimated 200 dogs, including many who were malnourished and in poor health; 12 rotting dog carcasses; and six bagged puppy corpses in the freezer. Fifty of the dogs were allegedly in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized. According to news reports, law-enforcement officials also found piles of feces and a lack of food, water, and shelter. Moriel is scheduled to appear in court on February 17.

Because Moriel may be an “animal hoarder”—someone who obsessively accumulates and neglects animals—PETA is requesting that, if convicted, he be prohibited from owning or harboring animals and required to undergo a thorough psychological evaluation followed by counseling.

“Facilities that purport to be sanctuaries but cause more suffering than they prevent are all too common,” says PETA Director Martin Mersereau. “If Mr. Moriel’s property proves to be one of those, it is imperative that he be duly sentenced.”

In other pending cases, Moriel is reportedly also facing felony charges for kidnapping or false imprisonment as well as misdemeanor charges of aggravated battery, indecent exposure, and other offenses resulting from an encounter with an elderly woman.

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PETA’s letter to Otero County District Attorney Diana Martwick follows.

February 14, 2013


The Honorable Diana Martwick
Otero County District Attorney’s Office
300 Central Ave.
Carrizozo, NM 88301


Dear Ms. Martwick:

Your attention is urgently requested.

PETA is an international animal-protection organization with more than 3 million members and supporters, thousands residing in New Mexico. This letter concerns a case that your office is handling involving Chaparral resident Felix Moriel of 804 Alice Marie Dr. He faces cruelty-to-animals charges stemming from the alleged September discovery of some 200 dogs at his property, including 12 dead adults and the bodies of six puppies found inside his freezer. Reportedly, the surviving dogs, some of whom allegedly bore severe injuries, were found languishing without food, water, or veterinary care and in squalid conditions—and 50 were in such poor condition that they had to be euthanized. Furthermore, we understand that bestiality videos were discovered on the premises. The defendant is scheduled to appear in court on February 17.

Moriel may be an animal hoarder. Hoarders create massive suffering while professing to care for their animals. A psychological addiction to warehousing animals supersedes any real concern for animal welfare. Their resources are usually constrained, making matters worse. The “hoarder syndrome” is not rare. It’s pathological, and rates of recidivism approach 100 percent. Only specific sentencing provisions (or conditions of a plea agreement) can prevent repeat offenses. Please see the attached document for more information.

We respectfully ask that, if convicted, in addition to serving a period of incarceration, Moriel be required to undergo a psychological evaluation followed by mandatory counseling. We ask also that the defendant, if convicted, be barred from possessing animals for as long as possible (a common sentencing provision in such cases) and that officials routinely inspect his property to ensure compliance.

Thank you for your time and for the difficult work that you do.

Sincerely yours,

Melissa Lewis, Cruelty Caseworker
Cruelty Investigations Department

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