By Andy Jackson: CNJ staff writer
A Texas man was arraigned Wednesday in Clovis’ Magistrate Court on 58 counts of animal cruelty after officials said they discovered dozens of dead cats and dogs last month at the Curry County home he was renting.
A Curry County sheriff’s deputy found 33 dead cats and dogs and 25 more in poor condition during a Jan. 12 visit at 1908 Curry Road AL about eight miles northwest of Melrose.
Harvey Gillaspy, 42, was arrested Monday in Cochran County, Texas, for failing to obtain a kennel license, 25 counts of cruelty to animals (both misdemeanors); and 33 counts of extreme cruelty to animals (a felony), records show.
Gillaspy’s driver’s license listed his address as a post office box in Enochs, Texas.
“I entered the back room, which contained the cats, and I saw many dead cats and the remaining live cats were eating the dead cats,” Curry County Sheriff’s Deputy D. Kube wrote in the arrest warrant.
Gillaspy rented the $400 a month farm house in October from Ruth Ashley, who said she didn’t know animals were going to reside with the tenants.
Ashley said she gave Gillaspy and his roommate an eviction notice in December, following two months of unpaid rent.
“It was a pigsty… The house wreaks to high heaven,” Ashley said of the adobe home after Gillaspy and his roommate left.
Caged snakes and a porcupine were also found in Gillaspy’s residence, although he’s not charged for the exotic animals not protected by the city’s ordinance, according to court records and the 9th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
“Why would a person have 40 cats if they can’t afford to feed 40 cats?” Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher said.
“Some people have the idea that they hate seeing animals run loose, that it would be better to lock them into a barn without food or water. That’s not a good thing,” he said.
Gillaspy faces a maximum sentence of over 50 years in jail, according to the district attorney’s office. He is being held at the Curry County Adult Detention Center on a $50,000 bond, records show.
Officials were first dispatched to Gillaspy’s rented home Dec. 5 after Ashley complained to authorities about the animals and unpaid rent, Hatcher said.
“One of the dogs appeared to be slightly malnourished as ribs could be seen. The room was somewhat dirty and feces were on the floor. There were so many (cats) that I couldn’t get an accurate count,” Kube reported in court records.
Police told Gillaspy on Dec. 12 to acquire a kennel license, then unsuccessfully attempted to cite him on Jan. 2 for not obtaining the license, records show. On Jan. 11 police served Gillaspy (and his female roommate) an eviction notice and saw a dead dog near the gate of the front yard, records show.
The 25 live animals removed from Gillaspy’s home were later euthanized (under county ordinance provisions) because animal shelters from Clovis to Roswell couldn’t house the animals, Hatcher said.
“I was told that the facilities in Clovis could not house such a large number (of animals). I place(d) phone calls to numerous places trying to house the animals. I could find no one,” Kube reported.
The animals were housed for a week in chicken and rabbit coops at the county fairgrounds before being exterminated, Hatcher said.
Gillaspy was charged for ignoring the county’s kennel license ordinance, a misdemeanor, records show.
The local law limits unlicensed residents to no more than four adult cats and four adult dogs, Hatcher said. The ordinance was passed five years ago after a man living northwest of Clovis was convicted of owning an illegal breeding operation with more than 60 dogs, Hatcher said.
There was no phone listing for a Harvey Gillaspy or his roommate in the eastern New Mexico and West Texas area.