Crystal Santiago Griego and Ted Griego dogs, cats seized, 1 great dane found permanently deformed

Albuquerque, NM

Bernalillo County

October 1, 2008

An animal-cruelty investigation could lead to felony charges for keeping a Great Dane in a small cage for so long the dog is permanently deformed and can't fully stand up.

The investigation by the Albuquerque Criminal Nuisance Abatement team has been turned over to the Bernalillo County district attorney's office for possible prosecution on a charge of extreme animal cruelty.

The case began when police responded to a call to check on the welfare of a 2-year-old boy at an apartment complex in the 4300 block of Pan American Freeway NE.

The child was healthy, but police reported the living conditions were unsanitary and called in both the nuisance team and the state Children, Youth and Families Department.

They found trash throughout the home, urine and feces on the floor and the home in disrepair. And they found a 3-4-year-old Great Dane locked up in a 2-by-2 1/2-foot cage.

"This is one of the most disturbing cases I've seen of animal cruelty," city Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli said.

  (Photo courtesy of KRQE)  The dog is permanently deformed, emaciated and had sores that were bleeding, according to the city's Animal Welfare Department.  "The deformity is such that the muscles have contracted down where he can't extend both his rear legs to the normal position," Dr. Craig Mabray, the city's chief veterinarian, told KRQE News 13.

No charges have been filed yet, but the home is not livable. The owner evicted the tenants, the child is staying with relatives, and another family has already adopted the dog.

"The (Mayor Martin) Chávez administration wants to get the message out that if people are aware of this situation they need to let us know so we can take appropriate action," Dinelli said.

Animal abuse can be reported through the city's 311 information hotline, he added.

Update 10/2/08: Albuquerque police called out on a welfare check found a complete mess in the apartment of Ted and Crystal Griego, near Montgomery and Interstate 25. Inside, they say trash littered the floor and excrement was found throughout the residence.

Officers who deal with calls like this say it was so bad in the apartment, it turned their stomachs.

Police were first called to the complex by neighbors who could smell the apartment through the door, saying they were worried about the two-year-old child inside.

         (Photo courtesy of KOB - bags of trash were found in the bath tub)  In one of the rooms, police say a fully grown Great Dane was caged inside a two-and-a-half by two-foot crate. Officers think the dog had lived most of its life confined in the box.

"When they removed the animal from the crate, it was full of sores on its legs, its tail, it's snout," an officer said.

A city veterinarian said the dog's legs are deformed and it can barely walk because of the abuse.

People in the complex expressed shock.  "It's a very sad thing," one resident said. "I didn't think something like this would happen where I live."

The Great Dane, named Casanova, is being nursed back to health and will be put up for adoption.  The Griegos face felony animal cruelty charges. Their two-year-old boy is now staying with his grandma and is reported to be okay.

Update 10/3/08:  There is a new a twist to an extreme animal abuse case in Albuquerque.  The city removed a Great Dane from a home that Albuquerque officials said was covered in filth on Wednesday.

A city vet said the dog was likely in a crate for months or even years, with no exercise and little food and water.

Albuquerque police charged Ted Griego and Crystal Santiago Griego with extreme animal cruelty.

Santiago Griego said, "It was all a setup."

The city has a different story.  Chief Safety Officer Pete Dinelli said, "This morning we received a tip that this woman owns along with her husband, and on that property there may be another dog."

Dinelli said the city deemed the mobile home substandard. A year ago it caught on fire and nobody repaired it. No one is allowed to live in it, including a dog found locked inside the abandoned home.

When asked why Santiago Griego left the dog without electricity, she responded, "Because my ex burned down the house."

  (Photo courtesy of KOAT)  Santiago Griego works for the city driving vans to transport the disabled.

Transit Director Greg Payne put her on paid administrative leave after learning of the first incident.

Dinelli said, "The city has a professional code of conduct and they are exploring whether or not there are any violations."

Payne fired Santiago Griego in 2006, alleging she abused the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act and had too many no-shows at work.  She appealed to a personnel hearing officer and got her job back, along with $23,000 in back pay.

She is charged with extreme cruelty to animals, a felony. And a felony conviction could keep her out of any city job.

The dog rescued from the mobile home is doing fine. City vets said it appeared healthy and well fed. It will likely be available for adoption at one of the Albuquerque animal shelters.

The case against Santiago Griego and Griego is now in the hands of the district attorney.

The mayor is pushing for a full prosecution, but it will be up to the district attorney to decide if there's enough evidence of a crime.

Payne said he expects to make decisions about Santiago Griego's employment by next week.

Update 1/30/09:  A Grand Jury has indicted a city employee on child abuse and extreme animal cruelty charges.

  (Photo courtesy of KRQE)  Animal control officers seized dogs and cats from the home of Crystal Santiago Griego earlier this month.

Investigators said that a great dane was badly deformed after spending most of its life in a tiny cage.

There was also a two-year-old child living in the home that police said smelled badly of urine and feces.

Santiago Griego is an Albuquerque bus driver.

A spokesperson for ABQ Ride said that action against her is expected by the end of the week.