SAN ANTONIO – Animal Care Services chief field operation officer, Shannon Sims, said they are finding that a number of people who are breaking the law have done this before.
In June, Gary Kennedy pled no contest to the felony charge and was sentenced to 15 years in prison for animal cruelty. Kennedy was caught on surveillance video on July 3, 2014, beating a young Shar Pei with a metal rebar at a construction yard. He was sentenced to the maximum time allowed by law because of the nature of the crime and previous convictions for numerous violent offenses.
The punishment is unprecedented in Texas, but it's a sign that Animal Care Services officers here in San Antonio are taking these cases seriously.
"It happens real frequently. Very, very frequently," said Sims. "We have situations where folks don't respond or it's an administrative citation, (where they say) 'I just won't go to court.'"
Gabriela Davila's dog was found loose on the street.
"I think somebody was calling his attention and he climbed up and they unhooked his chain," Davila said.
Davila is getting three citations, $300 apiece.
"I'm not a very happy camper right now," Davila said.
This appears to Davila's first offense, but on the same trip out with ACS officers, there were other homeowners caught with loose dogs who had been cited before.
"You got that ongoing trend," said Sims. "It's not a dog problem. It's a people problem and getting folks to be educated to keep your dog inside and things like that."
Juana Sanchez lives in the same West Side neighborhood as Davila and she says the same people leave their dogs loose in her neighborhood and that the problem is so bad, she won't even walk to school anymore.
"I don't know why people have pets if they don't even take care of them," Sanchez said. "And it's very sad when we see the pets just everywhere and not even water or food. They're just everywhere."
"We take it very, very seriously and we hope that the public takes it as seriously," said Sims. "Because there are repercussions. My officers are out there. They have a zero tolerance policy and you are going to be held accountable."
Davila still has a chance to get her fines lowered.
"If I take the court all their paperwork and everything, they'll lower it down," Davila said. "But that's still a lot of money."
Sims said citations can cost as much as $2,000 or can even include a warrant for an offender's arrest.