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Animal mistreatment charges filed after injured, emaciated dog brought to vet, second dog found dead

Lugo faces both a misdemeanor and felony count of animal overwork/mistreatment.

A courtroom gavel

WINDOM — A Windom man was issued a summons after an investigation into a potentially mistreated dog revealed wounds to one animal and the death of a second, according to the criminal complaint.

Daniel Lugo, 24, has since been charged with two counts of overwork and/or mistreatment of animals — one felony, and one misdemeanor.

On Feb. 16, an officer with the Windom Police Department was informed of a potentially neglected dog named Chico that had been taken to Cottonwood County Vet Clinic.

Upon responding to the clinic, the officer was informed the dog had a wound on his front leg and was very thin, with pronounced and visible ribs and hip bones. The vet tech stated the clinic had received a call the previous day from someone claiming to have found the dog with a leg injury.

The Cottonwood County Animal Rescue organizer informed the clinic she believed the dog belonged to Lugo, and that she had adopted a puppy from him. According to statements given in the report, the mother of the puppy was too malnourished to feed the puppies, and the animal rescue organizer believed she had since died.

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Two members of the Windom Police Department and the vet went to Lugo’s residence in Windom. Lugo told them he had given Chico away over two months ago because the dog was aggressive toward children. Reportedly, his other dog, Bella, had died after giving birth to her first litter of puppies.

After leaving the residence, the officer was contacted by Lugo who said that Chico was fed every day and that he tried giving the dog dewormer medicine but the dog wouldn't gain weight. Lugo also said he didn't know how the dog got the wound on his leg and that he noticed the dog started getting sick and losing weight when Bella died. For a couple of weeks following the birth of the puppies, Bella reportedly experienced bleeding, but Lugo did not bring her to the vet then, or at any point during the pregnancy.

On Feb. 22, Lugo told the officer that he buried Bella at his friend's farm in Bingham Lake. The friend told the officer Lugo brought the dog’s remains to her home to bury her, but that due to the ground being frozen, he instead left her remains in a metal container.

The vet retrieved the container and upon examining the remains, determined that Bella had not been dead for two months and suffered from treatable enteritis and was severely emaciated.

Chico was also found to be emaciated, but was negative for parasites and worms and ate readily at the clinic. Since being at the clinic, Chico has reportedly gained approximately 20 pounds.

If convicted of the charges, Lugo faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine for the felony charge and 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine for the misdemeanor charge.

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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