A Dallas woman is facing deportation after she went to Dallas Animal Services and sought help for her sick dog.
Authorities accused Maria Flores of animal cruelty after her dog Muffy developed an infection on her leg in January.
Flores owned Muffy for about six years, but now the Maltese is at the center of an immigration case.
“They took Muffy to the vet,” said Angela Andrade with the North Texas Dream Team.
Flores and her husband paid a vet $60 for the visit but learned it would cost $1,500 to treat Muffy.
“Unfortunately they could not pay $1,500. They didn’t have funds for the treatment,” said Belinda Martinez, Flores’ attorney.
Flores hoped Muffy would get better, but she didn’t. About a month later, she decided to take her dog to Dallas Animal Services hoping they would treat Muffy.
“They actually thought they were doing the right thing by going to Dallas Animal Services,” said Martinez.
But police say by the time Muffy got to the shelter, her leg was so infected it had maggots and had to be amputated.
The owners surrendered Muffy because they couldn’t pay to have her treated.
“Maria was crying and said, ‘I don’t want to do that’ but because she knew Muffy was in pain that’s the decision they made,” said Andrade.
Flores’ attorney says Dallas Animal Services called Dallas police. Months later, in August, authorities arrested Flores for alleged animal cruelty.
While at the Dallas County jail, authorities learned Flores was in the country illegally and put her on an immigration hold.
“She has two U.S. citizen children and now been away from her kids for weeks and weeks and this is a person who has never been in trouble,” said Martinez.
A Dallas County grand jury declined to indict Flores for animal cruelty but she still faces deportation. Those trying to help her say her case strikes fear in other immigrants.
“I was in disbelief but then I wasn’t with everything going on,” said Andrade.
Muffy was turned over to the SPCA. The dog recovered and was adopted out.
Meanwhile, Flores’ supporters hope she will be released on bond soon but fear she will be deported away from her loved ones.