Danbury animal shelter manager appears in court on cruelty charges

DANBURY -- A animal shelter worker pleaded not guilty on Wednesday on animal cruelty charges.

Connecticut Animal Control officers said 30-year-old Krystel Lopez was arraigned on two counts of animal cruelty after officers say they found dogs, cats and rabbits living in unsanitary and too-small cages without access to water at Tails of Courage Animal Rescue in Danbury.

In October, the Connecticut Department of Health and Human Services became aware of the complaints and deployed three inspectors to the shelter.

“What we found were animals that were in cages that were too small for them, multiple animals per cage," said Lisa-Michelle Morrissey, the director for the Danbury Health and Human Services.

The Department of Agriculture was notified in November and assisted the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the City of Danbury as to what to do next.

After several routine inspections, the poor conditions were addressed, but in February, Danbury police got involved after more complaints came about sick animals living in squalor.

“While doing that inspection they realized that there were some animals there that they believed to be in distress. They believed the animals were sick and not getting the proper care," said Sergeant Matt Casazza of the Danbury Police Department.

An investigation led by the State of Connecticut Animal control found several animals in bad condition. A warrant for Krystel Lopez became active and on April 16 she turned herself in.

The News-Times reports that officials say the facility was also cited for a rat infestation and a burst pipe. Tails of Courage founder Kristan Exner said Wednesday that she was blindsided by the charges and doesn't think Lopez is guilty. Lopez's attorney said after's Wednesday court appearance that her client is not guilty of animal cruelty charges.

“Ms Lopez and the entire staff at Tails of courage are committed to rescuing dogs from kill shelters and fostering or adopting out dogs to forever homes,” said her attorney, Vicki Hutchinson . Her next court date is May 16.