Dog breeder on trial, accused of animal cruelty

Case centers on two sickly puppies seized in 2008

SAN ANTONIO - Sylvia Guerra listened as former animal cruelty investigator Beth Schneider testified about what she found in 2008 at a home and inside a garage where more than 30 dogs allegedly were caged in filthy conditions without adequate food and water.

“The puppies were lethargic and panting,” Schneider said.

Robert Barrera, Guerra’s defense attorney, countered with photographs showing what he said was water left in bowls.

“That’s liquid, yes,” Schneider said, but in the same bowls with what appeared to be cooked chicken and rice.

Animal Care Services seized the Maltese-poodle puppies, but the case centers on two that later had to be put down.

Former ACS veterinarian Dr. Sylvia Draper testified later outside the presence of the jury that both puppies were dying from the highly contagious parvovirus that destroys the animals’ intestinal tract.

Barrera questioned the testing that was done and her diagnosis.

But Draper said she also used her clinical expertise.

“I can look at a dog that is vomiting and has bloody diarrhea and lethargic and make the diagnosis of parvo,” Draper said.

Draper told the court a necropsy on the first dog confirmed her findings. She said it was then decided to end the other dog’s suffering.

“We tested him and when his results checked positive, we decided at that point to euthanize him,” Draper said.

She also said those two puppies were isolated from the rest that later were treated at ACS.

“I was concerned the parvo would spread to the other dogs,” she said.

Draper testified how the animals were kept in unsanitary and inadequate conditions, and the lack of veterinary care contributed to the prosecution’s allegations of animal cruelty.

If convicted of the state jail felony, Guerra faces a maximum two year sentence. Prosecutors said her partner Joe Lozano is awaiting trial.

In 2009, the Defenders interviewed two families who described how they had ordered two puppies from the couple who once operated Adorable, a now defunct website. Both of those puppies later died.

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.


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