Driver may face charges for dog injured in crash

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – A service dog ejected from a vehicle in an overnight crash Thursday is now in critical condition, and Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office is expected to charge the driver with extreme animal cruelty.

The rollover crash happened on Interstate 40 westbound near the Route 66 Casino, bringing traffic to a standstill overnight. The vehicle was traveling westbound shortly before 2 a.m. when it appears the vehicle left the interstate, rolling over a fence.

The driver was airlifted to the hospital; BCSO told KRQE News 13 he does not have life-threatening injuries.

Crews got a backboard to transport the service dog into an ambulance while they waited for animal control to arrive.

According to Bernalillo County Animal Care Services, the dog may not survive.

“It is not good,” Matt Pepper, director of Animal Care Services, said Thursday morning. “The dog is in critical condition; has significant fractures to its pelvis and legs, punctured lungs, including fluid filling in them. We’re working very hard to stabilize him, but whether that’s going to be possible has yet to be determined.”

Pepper said Freedom Service Dog of Englewood, Colo., has been in touch with the county about Tango, the dog. They said Tango, who is being treated at an Albuquerque animal hospital, will not be returned to the driver, and Pepper said the organization will be paying the dog’s medical bills.

Investigators say alcohol may have been a factor. BCSO is waiting on blood test results, but say more charges could be forthcoming. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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