LOS LUNAS, N.M. (AP) — The owner of a Los Lunas livestock auction has pleaded guilty to some misdemeanor counts under an agreement that led to the dismissal of the most serious charges in a horse-abuse case.
Dennis Chavez had faced12 misdemeanors, including animal cruelty. He pleaded guilty Monday to four counts of lack of a bill of sale, and the other charges were dropped under the agreement with the District Attorney’s Office in Valencia County.
The charges involved several horses at Southwest Livestock Auction in June 2012 that appeared to be dehydrated and exhausted. An animal welfare group recorded video of horses that were unable to stand.
One horse died at the auction grounds. Three others were euthanized.
Chavez’s attorney, Gary Mitchell, said the horses had been left on the property without the knowledge of his client, and that Chavez would have tended to the horses if he had known they were there.
“People would bring them there because they couldn’t take care of them and leave,” Mitchell said. “It’s sad, it’s tragic, but on the other hand, what do you do with them?”
Mitchell said it is common for people to leave horses, which is why he didn’t have the bill of sale.
Chavez faced 16 animal cruelty charges in 1990 when he operated an auction in the Albuquerque area. Fifteen of the charges were dismissed, and he was acquitted of the remaining one.