KSAT Defenders inve­stigation: 3,000 dog bites reported yearly in San Antonio; Few dogs deemed dangerous

Woman wants more action taken after dog attacked for second time

SAN ANTONIO - A woman whose dog was attacked by another dog is criticizing the city for not taking more action to declare dogs dangerous or aggressive.

Dog owner Linda Stewart contacted the KSAT Defenders and said the city of San Antonio failed to act after her dog was attacked a second time by the same dog.

In 2011 and 2012, more than 6,000 dog bites on people have been reported in San Antonio. Yet in that same period, the city designated less than three dozen dogs as "dangerous" and even fewer than that as "aggressive."

Dogs that attack people can be labeled dangerous, while dogs that attack other animals can be called aggressive in legal terms.

Steward owns a 10-year-old Lhasa Apso named Jasmine, which she said was attacked by the dog next door.

Jasmine was in her backyard when the other dog broke through the fence.

“(I) picked up a one-by-six (board), that's all I could find, and I hit that dog over the head at least 10 times,” Stewart said.

She said this was the second such attack on Jasmine and by far the worst, with vet bills over $1,000 -- part of which was paid for through donations from the city.

What came home with Jasmine were questions. Stewart asked why the city cited her for having a dog needing medical treatment after the attack, but did not designate the attacking dog as aggressive.

The city does not keep count of dog-on-dog attacks but people are bitten about 3,000 times a year, according Assistant Director Vincent Medley of Animal Care Services. He said there may be many more cases of dog bites that are not reported.

Medley defended the city, saying reports of dangerous or aggressive dogs are investigated and action is taken.

"We do have an investigator who is specifically assigned to dangerous and aggressive cases," Medley said.

In 2011 and 2012, only 33 dogs have been designated dangerous and only 28 dogs were labeled aggressive after attacking other animals.

Jasmine's attacker was not designated aggressive, the city said, because of insufficient evidence.

"I thought (there was evidence) but evidently ACS didn't think so," Stewart said.

Alamo Area Partners for Animal Welfare has lobbied for changes. Member Jamesa Hill agreed with Stewart that the neighbor dog should have been designated aggressive.

"If it digs up under the fence to come to attack, that's a dangerous dog," Hill said. “I think that the dog should be declared dangerous and I'm not sure really what the policy is.”

Medley said the city does have a way to take care of bad dogs.

"In case of dog-on-dog attack, we have the aggressive dog ordinance," Medley said.

Aggressive dogs can be forced to wear muzzles and be kept in secure enclosures.

An aggressive dog sign could be required and even a $100,000 insurance policy can be required that would cover dog attacks. But those requirements can only be enacted if the city takes action and that does not happen very often.



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