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Possible sexual abuse, disturbing details in dog hoarding case
By: GENEVIEVE CURTIS
EL PASO-Texas: Animal rescuers come forward with disturbing new details from a dog hoarding case in Chaparral.
The Otero County Sheriff's Office raided a dog sanctuary operated by Felix Moriel where they found nearly 300 dogs. They arrested Moriel on seven different counts, including battery.
Various rescues stepped in to take the dogs but they said many have a long road to recovery.
When Zahn Camacho, a professional dog trainer, first met Oreo, Dulce and Betty Sue, they wanted nothing to do with her.
"These dogs were all cowering and shaking and I had no idea, no idea they had this much life in them," said Camacho.
She said the dogs were afraid of her, backed into the corner and showed signs of trauma.
Volunteers who went to rescue the dogs took photos of Moriel's property. The photos show the home and property was covered with dead dogs, trash and debris.
"I went into the home trying to get dogs out and as I was in the house, I was walking over dead dogs," said Elsa Escobar.
After taking the dogs to the veterinarian, rescuers were told several of the dogs had severe internal injuries and signs that they may have been sexually abused either by a human or an instrument.
"Filth, disgust, the animals were, I can't even describe to you. These animals living in hell, in their own feces, no water, no food, emaciated it was so sad to see. It was just so sad," said Escobar.
Rescuers said they hope to adopt out all of the dogs but many of them are still showing signs of trauma and cowering in their kennels.
"It's really bad. Normal dogs would not have acted like this," said Camacho.
While KFOX14 was there, some of the dogs started to come out of their shell but were still very apprehensive and leery of the humans.
Court records show Moriel pleaded no-contest to animal cruelty charges in 2012 but still continued to run what he called a dog sanctuary.
"It was supposed to be a sanctuary. But it wasn't. It was hell," said Escobar.
The Otero County sheriff tells KFOX14 his employees are continuing to investigate. Meanwhile, Moriel remains in custody as his dogs begin to heal.
The sheriff said it will be up to the district attorney as to whether they press animal cruelty charges.