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Authorities investigating fatal dog attack

Owner could face felony charges

A multiple-agency investigation is underway into the death of an elderly woman on the city's West Side.
A multiple-agency investigation is underway into the death of an elderly woman on the city's West Side.

A multiple-agency investigation is underway into the death of an elderly West Side woman.

Petra Aguirre, 83, was attacked in her backyard by her neighbor's dog last month. She died Friday.

Her nephew, Simon Yanez, said he is still haunted by the image of his mother's bloodied and bruised body.

"She had bites on her arms, on her legs, her neck, her skull, her ear," Yanez said. "I didn't believe it was only one dog."

According to Yanez, the dog that attacked his aunt was one of several kept in a small enclosure next door to his aunt's house. The animal was euthanized on Saturday, but Yanez doesn't blame the dog. His anger is directed at the dog's owner.

"They should know what kind of dog they have, and they should be responsible to go ahead and have them tied up properly or have them secured properly," he said.

Compounding the family's anger is the fact that the dog was involved in a previous bite incident last year.

"(Animal Care Services) should have come and investigated and seen if those dogs are properly tied up," Yanez said.

Lisa Norwood, a spokesperson with Animal Care Services, said the organization did not have the authority to investigate whether the dog was properly secured since it was not designated as a dangerous dog.

"(The 'Dangerous dog' designation) is something that cannot be self-initiated by ACS," Norwood said. "It's something that's driven by a complaint, by a citizen affidavit."

Had an official complaint been made, the dog might have received the designation.

Under city code, dangerous dog owners are required to microchip the dog and keep it in a secure enclosure. The owner must also attend a responsible owner class and submit to annual inspections of their residence.

"There is a process that would follow up on that to make sure the animal is abiding by the law, to make sure the owner is doing what they need to do," Norwood said. "This has been an ongoing problem owner and that's what so sad about the situation is that it's a complete tragedy that was also completely avoidable."

Under state law, if any criminal negligence is found on the part of the owner, meaning the dog was not properly secured, he or she could face second degree felony charges.

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