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Malnourished dog finds new Santa Fe home via Facebook

August 26, 2018

A young Santa Fe woman who posted a Facebook message seeking a new home for a Chihuahua in her care is now facing a $100 fine from the city’s Animal Services Division, social media harassment that includes at least one death threat and an online petition calling for her arrest over the year-old dog’s condition.

The once-emaciated Chihuahua, formerly known as Peanut and now called Mike, is healthier after a weeklong stay in an animal hospital and is adjusting to his new home. But outrage over his treatment continues.

According to a Santa Fe animal control report, 19-year-old Daisha Romero, a caregiver for people with disabilities at Benchmark Human Services, put a post on the Santa Fe Bulletin Board Facebook page in early August, announcing she was trying to find a home for the Chihuahua. Photos showed the dog was “very thin and possibly in need of medical care,” an officer wrote in the Aug. 17 report, citing Romero with neglect.

The Facebook post has since been deleted.

Romero, who says the dog was left in her care recently by a relative in need, also deleted her social media accounts, she said, because people were posting slurs and threats. One post said, “I hope someone kills you.”

An online petition on Change.org calling for Romero to be put behind bars had almost 800 signatures Friday.

“All this drama doesn’t make me feel safe,” she said in a phone interview. No one should abuse a dog, she said, but “it’s not right to do this with only one side of the story.”

She added: “It’s all false information. He was not abused at all.”

According to the animal control report, a complaint against Romero was filed by the woman who responded to her Facebook post and made arrangements to take custody of Mike. Romero agreed to give the dog to Kristin Eastlund, a hair stylist and dog enthusiast, on Aug. 10, the report says, and Eastlund submitted a complaint three days later.

Before their meeting, Romero had sent Eastlund a message saying the Chihuahua wasn’t doing well. Eastlund, who provided cellphone screenshots of communication between the two, asked for a photo, and Romero sent an image showing a crouching Mike, with his ribs clearly visible.

Eastlund told Romero to take the dog to the Gruda Veterinary Hospital on the city’s south side.

“I thought, ‘How can you see this dog and not bring it to the ER or the vet or the shelter?’ ” Eastlund said in an interview. “I just wanted to get [the dog] away from her.”

According to the animal control report, Mike was in “poor condition” when Romero dropped him off and relinquished ownership to Gruda.

Staff at the veterinary hospital did not provide information to The New Mexican about Mike’s condition, though Eastlund said she gave the clinic permission to release the dog’s records.

Veterinary staff told her Mike was on the brink of death, with no sugar in his blood and a bruise on his head, Eastlund said. “It was basically that she starved the dog almost to death.”

In the phone interview, Romero said, “I didn’t know he was in that bad of condition.” She had fed the dog the morning before surrendering him, she said, but he was eating slowly.

Romero, who hasn’t yet paid her $100 animal control fine, according to a city police spokesman, said she thought the citation against her had been dismissed.

Meanwhile, Eastlund said Mike is doing well and “eating like a champ” at the home she shares with her mother, Sandra Silva.

Still, Eastlund wishes Romero had faced more severe consequences.

“I would like to see more punishment with dogs being abused and neglected,” she said. “They’re living beings like part of your family; they should be respected.”

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