ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The City of Albuquerque filed more than 100 criminal charges against a dog trainer in connection to conditions inside an animal boarding facility.
Lisa Berry pleaded guilty to 15 of those charges Tuesday and a judge sentenced her on the spot. They’re all petty misdemeanor and misdemeanor charges, so she’ll serve five years of probation.
Berry won’t do any jail time. Some victims say it’s not surprising, but still disappointing.
KOB 4 met Jonathan Steinberg in January in the middle of his frantic search to get his labs back from Berry.
He says he paid her about $7,000 for a few weeks of boarding and training. Albuquerque Animal Control officers seized 35 dogs from that boarding facility, not including Duncan and Cooper – Steinberg’s dogs.
Steinberg got them back days later – sick, skinny, and untrained.
Berry pleaded guilty to 15 charges Tuesday – five counts of failing to provide food or water at a boarding kennel, five counts of lack of environmental enrichment for the animals, and five counts of misdemeanor cruelty to animals.
Berry will be on supervised probation for two years, and unsupervised probation for another three years.
A judge ordered her to pay $2,500 in fines, do 125 hours of community service, and complete an animal cruelty prevention program on her own dime.
“I don’t think it’s enough. My dogs are not just pets, they’re family, they’re my children. And she hurt my children,” said Steinburg. “In a way, I feel like she won sort of. She made off with over $7,000 from me, and I know there’s multiple victims. I mean, it’s gonna be in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. She’s just getting away with scot-free.”
Steinberg says he’s been timid to send them to another trainer after the traumatic experience. So, his dogs are still untrained.
Steinberg still has concerns about potential future victims.
“I lost faith in our justice system a little bit because of it. I mean, she’s a criminal. Had this been done to people, she would be behind bars. But our laws in New Mexico stink when it comes to animals, and they’re family they’re not property,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to stop her. I think it’s a slap on the wrist for her, and I just don’t see her stopping.”
Steinberg and other victims still have a chance to get some of their money back. The attorney general’s office filed a civil case against Berry, including an order for her to pay damages and other penalties for violating the Unfair Practices Act.
There’s a hearing scheduled for that case later this month.