The former manager of a Wolcott animal rescue appeared in court for the first time since she was arrested earlier this month on dozens of charges, including seven counts of animal cruelty.
Krystel Lopez is accused of adopting out sick puppies, practicing veterinary medicine without a license, among other things, while working as manager of Tails of Courage in Wolcott.
“She’s done nothing wrong and, you know, she cared for these animals and, you know, a lot of these animals were seen by a vet the day before they were adopted out. And I don’t even think she was present when the animals were adopted out,” said Lopez’s lawyer Ioannis Kaloidis.
In court Tuesday, Kaloidis asked the judge not to appoint an animal advocate in this case.
Per “Desmond’s Law” which was passed in 2016, the court may order a person approved by the state to advocate in court for cats and dogs believed to have been neglected or treated cruelly.
“Well we believe that the appointment of an animal advocate can interfere with my client’s due process rights,” said Kaloidis. “In my view, the criminal court and the constitution deals with the rights of the accused, not the rights of anyone else.”
A judge is expected hear arguments about the advocate in three weeks.
A lawyer representing Tails of Courage said the rescue is no longer running and the founder has no comment.
The group Desmond’s Army held signs outside of Waterbury superior court before Lopez’ appearance hoping to bring more attention to her case.
“I just adopted a dog myself. I can’t imagine a matter of days later losing that animal to such an awful illness as parvo,” said Linda Pleva, vice president and treasurer of the organization.
Pleva said problems in Wolcott could have been avoided if more was done after Tails of Courage faced scrutiny in their previous Danbury location.
Tuesday, Lopez’ lawyer confirmed his client is on probation.
She was charged with animal cruelty after an investigation into their Danbury location.
As part of a plea deal, she pled guilty to reckless endangerment and breach of peace earlier this year.