Officials seize 33 animals from home; Woman defends herself

Posted at: 10/09/2012 6:04 PM
Updated at: 10/09/2012 6:18 PM
By: Jill Galus, KOB Eyewitness News 4

Valencia County Animal Control officers removed almost three dozen animals from a women's home Tuesday.

Officers described them as underfed, underweight and found in poor living conditions. However, the woman who was caring for them told KOB Eyewitness News 4 she had no bad intentions and feels she is being wrongfully accused.

"I just doctor 'em up," Tammy Lopez said.

That is the only reason Lopez said she had 31 dogs, a cat and a rooster living with her.

"I stay up day and night with 'em, I've sewed 'em up, I don't got the money to take all these strays to the vet, you know, they're not my dogs, I'm just trying to help 'em," Lopez said.

All 33 animals were living outside and inside Lopez's mobile home, without food or water and sometimes with only a sheet of ply-wood against a pile of junk for shelter, according to Erik Tanner, director of Valencia County Animal Control.

"If you're going to chain the animal in your yard, and watch it slowly lose weight and start to languish, you're not doing anybody any favors, and you're certainly not helping the animal," Tanner said.

But Lopez said she is helping the animals, and if she had more time, she would have nursed them back to health.

"I told 'em, give me a couple weeks and these dogs will look totally different, the ones I found on the street," Lopez said. "I've rescued horses that were racks of bones... it doesn't take long to starve 'em, but it takes six, seven months to get the weight back on 'em."

It is against the law in Valencia County to have more than 12 animals per one-acre lot, regardless of a motive, Tanner said.

"What am I doing so wrong," Lopez said. "I guarantee if I didn't have 'em, they wouldn't be down at that shelter - they'd be put to sleep."

The animals will remain at the shelter until the case goes before a judge.