The Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department said Mary Snell, 44, put the family's young puppy, Baby, in a freezer bag so her son, James Engel, 21, could take a picture showing the small size of the canine, KRQE-TV, Albuquerque, reported Monday.
The picture was posted to Facebook, where it was seen by authorities. Investigators said the bag was open in the picture, but the puppy's face was in a corner of the container.
"When we talked to Animal Care Services, it's basically the same thing as an infant," sheriff's Sgt. Aaron Williamson said. "The young puppy doesn't have the ability to move its head to get to a fresh supply of oxygen. The way it was positioned in the bag, they said it would've only taken a few seconds to cause the puppy to suffocate."
Engel told investigators she knew it was wrong to put the puppy in the bag, but it was the only way she could get it to hold still for the picture.
Engel and Snell were arrested on felony animal cruelty charges.
The puppy, which was examined by Animal Care Services, was released into the custody of a family member.