When Denver police detective Tammy Hurtado and two fellow officers responded to an animal neglect call Sept. 13, they encountered a squalid scene.
A horrible odor greeted them as they entered the apartment on East Virginia Avenue. There were obvious health hazards - so many that the health department had to be called.
And there were more than 20 neglected dogs and assorted other animals.
Hurtado arrested the occupants on animal cruelty charges. Then she stayed to help Denver Animal Control process the animals and - on her own time - helped clean up several kennels so the rescued dogs did not have to sleep in filth.
But the dogs had to be shaved clean to prevent future infections, however, and they were shivering.
So Hurtado bought 27 sweaters with her own money to keep them warm.
Today, Hurtado was recognized for her "professionalism, compassion and concern" in a ceremony outside the Denver Animal Shelter on East Bayaud Avenue.
Police Chief Robert White was there with a proclamation honoring her. A representative of the Daniels Fund was there to give Hurtado the "Bill Daniels Neighborhood Hero Award". It included $1,500 in her name to go toward a new Denver police dog.
Afterwards, Hurtado told a reporter she has always been an animal lover.
"I come into the shelter on my own time to sit with dogs and help them go for walks," she said.
She adopted a German Shepard from an earlier abuse case, giving it a home until it passed away.
Today Hurtado, who is single, has three other dogs - two chihuahuas and a small black poodle named Demerius.
As she talked, Hurtado held Demerius in her arms. Predictably, he wore a sweater.
The poodle, she explained, was the last of the rescued dogs found in the East Virginia Avenue apartment still needing a home.
He found one. With Hurtado.
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