SAN ANTONIO – Four San Antonio Animal Care Services officers are tasked with investigating serious allegations of animal abuse and cruelty against animals.
Last year, the agency received 15,000 calls for cruelty or neglect, assistant director Shannon Sims said.
“We get a lot of calls that don’t rise to what the state considers cruelty,” he said.
About 80 cases turned into felony-type cases, and another 800 were misdemeanor citations.
“They carry very severe penalties. They carry state jail felony cases,” Sims said. “Last year, we had eight of those that resulted in sending someone to serve two to 10 years in prison.”
Oftentimes, it takes cases up to two years to get cases resolved. Coming up with evidence to send a case to trial requires just as much work as any homicide case, Sims said.
“There's times when we go to the prosecutors and they say ‘I don’t think this is solid enough. Can you get me more information on it?’” Sims said. “We go back and try to beat the brush a little bit and find anything else we might find to solidify the case.”
Sims said his agency takes abuse cases seriously, although they are rare.
“If they're bad people, their propensity for violence starts with animals,” he said. “So we see there's a definite link between animal cruelty, maiming, dismemberment and things like that and domestic violence and murder.”
Any San Antonians who suspect abuse against an animal are asked to call 311.