Updated: Tuesday, 05 Jun 2012, 6:46 PM MDT
Published : Tuesday, 05 Jun 2012, 6:46 PM MDTLOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) - The owner of a Los Lunas livestock auction is facing charges that he didn't properly treat four horses in his care.
On Tuesday 13th Judicial District Attorney Lemuel Martinez's office filed 12 misdemeanor charges against Dennis Chavez, owner of Southwest Livestock Auction.
The case stems from undercover video taken by animal rights group Animals' Angels on March 10. The video appears to show four emaciated, sickly horses at the auction struggling to stand or lying in the dirt.
According to a report filed by the group, three of the horses were put down by an auction employee. The fourth one died.
Four of the charges Chavez is facing are for animal cruelty, four are for failing to treat an animal that can't walk and four more are for not having a bill of sale for the horses.
Martinez says even if the horses were sickly when Chavez's auction received them, anyone who receives a horse has a responsibility to properly care for it or put it down humanely.
"We feel that something should've been done immediately or shortly thereafter upon receipt of the animals if they couldn't walk or move very well," Martinez said. "There's an obligation we feel, incumbent on people who receive animals in that shape."
If convicted, those charges could add up to nearly 12 years in prison.
When News 13 reached Chavez by phone Tuesday afternoon, he said he was not aware charges had been filed and had no comment otherwise.
Chavez was charged with 16 counts stemming from another animal cruelty case in 1990; all but one were dismissed by prosecutors. He was acquitted on the remaining charge.