86 DOGS, 35 CATS, OTHER ANIMALS TO BE RELOCATED FROM CHAPARRAL RESIDENCE

86 DOGS, 35 CATS, OTHER ANIMALS TO BE RELOCATED FROM CHAPARRAL RESIDENCE

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department is working with animal shelters in El Paso, Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Phoenix to relocate more than 100 animals recently discovered at a Chaparral residence.

Doña Ana County Sheriff Todd Garrison said the property owner, Louis C. Ashley, 70, is cooperating with authorities and has given permission for animal-control professionals and deputies to enter the property next Tuesday to begin the final count and evacuation of the animals.

At this time, it appears most of the dogs, as well as dozens of birds and several pack animals, are adoptable and will be shipped to regional animal shelters for placement efforts. The cats will be tested on site to determine whether any or all will have to be euthanized due to feline leukemia. All of the animals were found to have adequate shade, food and water on the property.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department has been working with Ashley for several months, following complaints and concerns called in by neighbors. Ashley, a Catholic priest, claimed he was running a state-sanctioned animal shelter. Sheriff’s investigators determined, however, that Ashley had registered the name of an animal shelter but had never recorded or received the proper permits for an operation of the magnitude found on the property.

Most of the animals are confined to kennels on about a half-acre of the three-acre property. Wild pigeons also heavily populate the property. A decision about how to handle the pigeon population has not yet been made. Ducks, geese and other birds will be relocated to waiting homes that already have been identified.

“This has been a major undertaking for our department and officers,” Garrison said. “I am unaware of any case in the region where so many animals have been found on one property. With the cooperation of Father Ashley and the generosity and compassion of animal shelters and animal-loving people who have been identified in the region, this story will have a happy ending for the majority of these animals.”

In exchange for cooperating with law-enforcement agents, Ashley will face no criminal charges. He also has agreed in writing to limit his future animal population to five dogs, one cat and some livestock, all of which are in good condition.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff's Department will make periodic checks of the property to insure compliance with the agreement. Ashley could face criminal charges in the event he violates the agreement in the future.