Ex-veterinarian charged with animal cruelty retains ownership of 10 dogs

Debra Clopton pays to retain dogs at county shelter; remaining "Edgewood 48" will be prepared for adoption
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May 16, 2013

While the bill for care and boarding multiplied, so did the so-called “Edgewood 48” seized from former veterinarian Debra Clopton’s Edgewood, N.M., home April 1. Five of the dogs seized in the raid have given birth to a total of 32 puppies.

Although a district judge granted ownership of the puppies to the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society, Clopton was on the hook for $900 a day in costs for the care and boarding of the original dogs. She appeared in court Monday with a check for $6,240 in order to retain ownership of 10 dogs.

Charged with 48 counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals in the case, Clopton was subsequently ordered to pay $27,000 or relinquish ownership of the animals. Since Clopton met the judge’s requirement to retain 10 dogs—the most allowed a household by city ordinance—the remaining dogs and their puppies will be prepared for adoption. The Santa Fe Animal Shelter’s Facebook page, where frequent updates on the Edgewood 48 are posted, received a flurry of comments regarding the situation.

The shelter responded to the outrage many expressed. “Those of you who are wondering why anyone in their right mind would return any of these dogs to Debra Clopton have a very good point,” the post read. “I think its important to clarify that she is paying the bond for 10 dogs. What this means is that the shelter will have to hold these dogs until the case comes to a close. If the owner is found guilty, the punishment could include no animals at all.”

If Clopton continues to pay for the boarding and care of the 10 dogs she has requested to retain, the dogs will remain at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter until she receives a ruling in her case. It could take six to nine months for Clopton’s criminal case to go to trial. In addition to the animal cruelty charges, additional charges regarding possession of controlled substances may still be forthcoming pending analysis.