By Thomas Garcia: Freedom New Mexico
Tucumcari Mayor Antonio Apodaca, accused of dragging a dog alongside his car, has been charged with one count of cruelty to animals, a misdemeanor, according to court records.
Apodaca’s attorney, Donald Schutte, said the mayor is innocent of the charges.
“There is a rational explanation to what occurred and it is not animal cruelty,” Schutte said.
The incident occurred on April 19 when someone “who wished to remain anonymous” reported seeing a man driving a vehicle and holding a dog by a chain, records show. The man was driving the vehicle with the dog being dragged alongside the vehicle, the witness told police.
Twice the dog was hit by the vehicle’s rear tire, the witness said.
Police identified the man driving the car as Apodaca, 61. The dog, described in court documents as a “medium framed dog,” was found in a pen on the south side of the mayor’s residence. It had a bloody spot on its right foot and another area that appeared to be a “drag mark” with hair missing and a fresh wound, records show.
Apodaca told police he drove the car with the dog alongside until it “broke free,” after which Apodaca said he walked the dog home.
Apodaca said he noticed the dog was limping, but its leg did not appear to be broken, court records show.
Schutte, the mayor’s attorney, said he has advised his client not to talk about the incident.
A court hearing is scheduled next Wednesday.
Apodaca has been Tucumcari’s mayor since 2008.