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Investigators Find Ducks Swimming in Sewage, Matted Dogs In Man’s Home

Dona Ana County Sheriff’s investigators are considering charging a man with animal cruelty for the second time, after removing 25 dogs from his home. ABC-7’s cameras were the only ones at the 500 block of South Fairacres throughout the day Thursday as deputies removed the seemingly matted poodles from Jack Catlan’s home.

One dog appeared to be bleeding from his nose and face. A few were too matted to see their faces.

Investigators were granted two search warrants. The first was to check the home after neighbors complained of a foul smell and too many animals. The second search warrant allowed deputies to remove the dogs.

Dona Ana County Spokeswoman Kelly Jameson said investigators found several code violations inside the home. She also said the dogs will be examined by a veterinarian.

“They’re all very matted. Their hair is overgrown so we’re unable to determine if they’re malnourished or not. The floor is covered in newspaper that has been soaked in urine and feces. There’s boxes stacked everywhere, food container boxes. What we categorize as trash that hasn’t been thrown out.”

Catlan, whose animals have been removed before, admitted the dogs may need a haircut, but maintains the animals are well taken care of. “They’re very healthy, they’re very active. They can hardly wait to go in and out. They just don’t like to stay out when they’re out. They practically knock me down every time I let them out, they knock me down when they get back in. They’re very energetic but they’re very happy on the inside,” he said during an interview in which he refused to show his face on camera.

Catlan was charged with animal abuse in June 2007 after Dona Ana County deputies removed nearly 50 animals from his home. Some of the dogs were taken to the Animal Rescue League in Canutillo where some were diagnosed with bladder infections and pneumonia. Most also had fleas and ticks, said the shelter’s director at the time.

Catlan’s case did not go to trial until 2008. By December of that year, a judge ruled the case had taken too long to go to trial, thus violating Catlin’s constitutional right for a speedy trial and all charges were dropped.

“We have the same investigators on this case than we did 5 years ago. They’re all observing the same violations. Same type of living situations, deplorable for these animals and so we’re right back where we started,” said Jameson on Thursday. She added Catlan did not have proof of vaccinations for the animals or the permit required to possess more than six animals.

Catlan said he is willing to work with investigators to do whatever is required of him to keep his animals, but also expressed disappointment. “It is my property and the animals are my property. I’m in total disagreement with the whole process. I’m in total disagreement with the laws as they are here in this county. I know other places do not have similar laws like this. But I’m being subjected to this again.”

Jameson said Catlan’s case has signs of animal hoarding. “They feel a need to care for the animals but they’re just unable to do so and it becomes an obsession to them. I don’t know if this particular home owner falls into that category right now but it’s very common in these types of investigations.”

Catlan called the animals his “friends and family” and said the experience was “extremely emotional, very emotional. It’s like being bled to death.”

Deputies say they also found as many as 100 chickens and ducks on the property. Jameson said some of the animals were allowed to roam and live inside the house in what she called deplorable conditions. “There’s a busted sewer line in the house that has pooled inside. It’s also leaked to the outside of the house that has started to collect and leak and pool that the ducks are swimming and drinking from.”

When asked to respond to how the deputies described the conditions on his property, Catlan said “no comment, it’s their opinion at this point.”

Investigators are still assessing whether Catlan will be charged.

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