Las Cruces man pleads not guilty to animal cruelty charges

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A Las Cruces man pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges on Tuesday.

Matthew Montes, 25, is accused of dipping his girlfriend's cat in boiling water and choking the cat.

After this happened, the cat named Lulu had burns all over her back and hind legs.

A month later, animal advocates who adopted the 7-month-old kitten out told ABC-7 Lulu is recovering well.

"It's unimaginable and it's just someone who's very sick. I don't know what to say. To make an animal like that suffer, any creature, any being," said Michel Meunier, the director of Action Programs for Animals (APA).

Las Cruces police said Lulu's owner found the kitten unable to walk and leaning against the wall in her litter box. Lulu had burns on her hind legs. Her fur and skin were falling off.

The cat's owner told police Montes admitted to dunking the kitten in boiling water and choking her until she passed out.

"It's not right to abuse a helpless being, a helpless animal. Even human beings can cry out, can defend themselves but these animals are defenseless so it's just extremely cruel," Meunier said.

The APA rescued Lulu as a kitten and adopted her to a loving family. Lulu is still recovering at the Calista Animal Hospital.

"It's going to be a long process but she's recovering and doing well. She's still sweet as ever so it's nice that she didn't get scared," Meunier said.

On Tuesday, Meunier and other animal advocates went to Montes' arraignment to protest animal cruelty.

Montes pleaded not guilty. He is being held on a $50,000 secured bond at the Doña Ana County Detention Center.

"You want a fair trial for everyone but if and when found guilty for the crime, we hope he will be punished to the extent of the law because that's what right and we need to send a message that animal cruelty is not tolerated," Meunier said.

Lulu is undergoing daily hydrotherapy and laser treatments. The Calista Animal Hospital set up an account for donations to cover her treatments. If you want to help, you can contact them at 575-525-1000.

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