SAN ANTONIO – A single photo taken in San Antonio has hundreds of people all across the country talking. It shows an animal control officer from behind, holding a catch pole with a small dog dangling from it above ground.
The dog’s head and front leg appear to be through a loop at the end of the pole.
Officer Shannon Sims, the assistant director of San Antonio’s Animal Care Service, confirmed that the officer pictured works for the local agency.
Sims said the photo, which was posted to Facebook by someone and then shared repeatedly, was taken Thursday morning near a home south of downtown. The officer was responding to a call there about abandoned animals when he picked up that dog and two others, Sims said.
“Animal Care Services does bring in about 30,000 animals every single year,” Sims said. “The handling, proper containment and the humane nature in which we treat those animals is of the utmost priority.”
All ACS officers undergo 12 weeks of training at the agency’s academy. The use of a catch pole is fairly common through the industry, Sims said.
Many people, both on social media and in person, have expressed concern.
"I think this is cruel and shouldn't be allowed. Animals do have rights also,” said Scott Polinski, a dog owner.
Susan Duggan worried about the well-being of the animal in the photo as she sat with her own dog, Logan, near the Pearl Brewery Friday morning.
“You can see I'm a dog lover and this looks like it's really hurting the dog,” she said.
Sims said as of Friday morning, the dog, which remains in ACS custody, did not have any lasting damage from the incident.
"The animal is in good health. The animal is not available right now for adoption,” Sims said.
Sims refused a request by KSAT 12 News on Friday morning to see the dog in person. The animal is part of an ongoing investigation, he said.
The investigation will involve interviews with witnesses and the officer, as well as a review of the photo, Sims said. Until it’s complete, the agency won’t weigh in on the officer’s actions, he said.
"It would be speculative right now because we're in the initial stages of the investigation, and we obviously don't want to jump to conclusions,” he said.
The officer, whose name has not been released, has been placed on administrative duty pending the outcome of the investigation.
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