ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A man is behind bars after animal care officers say he kept, bred and abused “a large number of dogs” in “filthy” conditions for more than a year.
Martin Segura, 60, is charged with 22 counts of animal cruelty and was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center Wednesday after Bernalillo County deputies executed a search warrant on his property.
Deputies found 22 dogs living in extremely poor conditions, according to a criminal complaint filed in Metropolitan Court, and the property was given the worst rating on an animal care index.
Bernalillo Animal Care Services had been investigating Segura since December, 2018, when they say a concerned citizen reported a large number of dogs at the home near Coors and Sage SW. Throughout the investigation Segura was often “unresponsive” and at one point tried to hide some of the animals on his property, according to the complaint.
Care officers told deputies upon a July 2 inspection of the property the odor of urine and feces made it hard to breathe and in some areas “feces had stacked up to about 3 inches thick,” according to the court documents. Officers also said there was little to no food or water on the property and only two dog houses for shelter, one of which was filled with trash.
Police say Segura was also docking the dog’s tails — removing them with scissors usually when they are 2-5 days old — and that some of the females had bite marks because they would fight each other while in heat.
The complaint detailed other hazardous conditions, such as sharp loose scrap metal, broken pipes, pieces of car frames and a rotting deck with “large holes to the ground.”
Many of the dogs had visible skin irritations, scarring, open cuts, hair loss and flea and tick infestations.
An animal care officer told deputies after the inspection a few of the animals had “large patches of 30+ ticks on different areas on their bodies.”
Police say Segura was also breeding puppies and keeping them in makeshift whelping boxes to separate them and their mothers from the other dogs.
The boxes were made of plywood and covered in rugs — allowing the feces and urine to soak into the boxes, making them “conductive to the spread of diseases,” the complaint said.
Using photographs of the property and animals taken during the July inspection, using rankings from the Tuft’s Animal Care and Condition Scale, officers determined the dogs were thin and very underweight.
Officers say the spines, rib cages and pelvic bones of some of the animals were visible, they had little to no palpable fat, and some muscle loss.
In August, Bernalillo County Zoning and Animal Care Services personnel met with Segura to “develop a plan to bring him into compliance with the County Ordinance,” which requires proper licensing and permits for people who have more than four cats or dogs or a combination of both.
In the meeting, Segura told officers he had only eight dogs, which is still over the county’s legal limit. He agreed to surrender any dogs exceeding the limit when officers came back the next day. When they returned, Segura was not present and did not answer the phone. While honking their car horn for around 30 minutes outside the home, animal care officers told deputies they heard barking and it was “apparent to them that there were more than 8 dogs, including another un-permitted litter of puppies.”
Investigators discovered a Facebook account belonging to Segura’s son where the puppies bred at the makeshift “puppy mill” were being sold.
According to the complaint, Segura’s “unwillingness to improve the condition of the property for the dogs for at least 10 months demonstrates willful intent to neglect animals.”