CLAYTON, N.M. (KFDA) - More than 100 animals are now being held for examination after being discovered at a home in our area.
The Eighth Judicial District Attorney's Office and Union County Sheriff's Office asked the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) to assist with this investigation.
While charges are still pending, authorities said they believe this is a case of animal abuse.
About 25 miles south of Clayton, New Mexico is a residence that prides itself on giving shelter to animals that need it.
But Detective Jody Reeser with the Union County Sheriff's Office said what's beyond the treeline is not suited for the number of animals they discovered on scene.
"There's just a huge unbelievable roar of dogs barking," said Reeser. "Makes it hard to think, makes it hard to talk or even concentrate you know. There was approximately 80 dogs that I could see stretching for maybe 100 yards."
Reeser said 111 animals were removed from the residence, with the Dreampower Foundation Sanctuary.
This comes after both the ASPCA and Union County Sheriff's Office received individual complaints from community members as well as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
"That's really a big red flag that made us decide we need to do something," said Reeser. "We need to open up an investigation and go from there."
According to their Facebook page, the Dreampower Foundation calls itself "a sanctuary for life for homeless animals and homeless people with their animals".
However, the vice president of a field and investigation response team for the ASPCA, Tim Rickey said the home is anything but a sanctuary, calling the conditions deplorable.
"A lot of the animals were kenneled individually in ramshackled kennels," said Rickey. "The water that they had was not suitable. We had filthy water bowls, dead mice in some of the water containers, just completely not acceptable. Throughout the property we saw animals with medical issues that had not been treated. Dogs that were having a tough time just walking around."
Rickey said what was inside the house was even worse.
"Urine and feces throughout the house," said Rickey. "The odor of ammonia as you walked in was so strong it took your breath away and we found animals living in very filthy environments with no resources available."
This isn't the first time the Dreampower Foundation has been under fire.
The ASPCA said the property owner, Diane Benedict, ran a similar sanctuary in Colorado.
But In 2017, it was found to be operating in violation of a court order prohibiting her from having more than 15 animals on the property without the proper license.
NewsChannel10 reached out to Benedict today, who said she needed to speak with her attorney before talking with us.
Reeser said Union County also has an ordinance, stating one resident or family can only possess three dogs.
The ASPCA credits the recovery of the animals to the people who spoke up about the sanctuary, and hope others who suspect similar cases will come forward with their concerns.
"Make sure you're reporting these concerns to law enforcement," said Rickey. "That's what starts these investigations. One phone call really could end years and years of suffering."
The ASPCA had a team of more than 20 people to assist with evidence collection, removal of the animals, medical assessments, veterinary tests and animal transportation.
Rickey said the animals were seized as evidence in a crime and will be held as evidence until a judge determines disposition.
They hope to get them into the adoptive homes they were promised when they came to the Dreampower Foundation in the first place.