ASPCA Assists New Mexico District Attorney, Union County Sheriff’s Office in Removal of Nearly 120 Animals from Dreampower Foundation Sanctuary in Clayton

Dogs, cats being transported to ASPCA temporary shelter for medical care
April 4, 2018

Clayton, N.M.—At the request of the New Mexico District Attorney and Union County Sheriff’s Office, the ASPCA® (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) is assisting with evidence collection and the removal of nearly 120 animals from an animal sanctuary established by the Dreampower Foundation in Clayton, N.M. The ASPCA is also assisting local authorities with medical assessments, veterinary forensics, animal transportation, and ongoing care of the animals.

The Dreampower Foundation calls itself “a sanctuary for life for homeless animals and homeless people with their animals”. The property owner, Diane Benedict, ran a similar sanctuary in Colorado which in 2017 was found to be operating in violation of a court order prohibiting her from having more than 15 animals on the property without the requisite license.

“This is a very detailed and ongoing investigation that has lasted for more than three months,” said Deputy Jody Reeser with the Union County Sheriff’s Office. “Upon arriving at the property and executing the search warrant, it was initially observed that the property was in poor condition and our main concern was getting the animals the help that they need. This type of investigation wouldn’t be possible without the current sheriff’s leadership, and we are pleased with the assistance that the ASPCA has provided - they’re key partners in the investigation and operation of this size and we couldn’t have done it without their help.”

“We look forward to collaborating with the many people and agencies involved in seeking a just result and a positive outcome for these animals,” added from Chief Deputy Ron Olson with the Eighth Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Upon arriving at the scene, responders discovered the animals—including large breed adult dogs and cats—living in deplorable conditions. Many of the animals appeared to be suffering from medical issues, injuries, and neglect. Dozens of dogs were found running loose throughout the property and some of them were in ramshackle kennels without access to clean water. Cats were confined to rooms inside the home, including the basement where they were found living with dirty litterboxes and dead mice.

“It was evident as soon as we arrived on the property that these animals were living in appalling conditions for quite some time,” said Tim Rickey, vice president of ASPCA Field Investigations and Response. “We’re pleased to be able to assist the local authorities in this case, and our immediate goal is to take these animals out of this terrible situation and provide them with the care they so desperately need.”

The animals are being transported to a temporary shelter operated by the ASPCA at an undisclosed location, where they will receive critical veterinary care and behavioral enrichment by ASPCA medical and behavior experts. The animals will be cared for at the temporary shelter until custody is determined by the court. The ASPCA is working closely with local law enforcement and prosecutors to ensure the best outcome for these animals. Charges are pending once evidence is submitted and approved by the District Attorney’s Office.