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Experience a day in the life of an Animal Care Services officer

We followed an ACS officer for a day; here's what we saw

SAN ANTONIO – Animals left outside in life-threatening weather, abandoned puppies and dogs on the loose are some of the calls to which officers with Animal Care Services respond.

Last year, ACS said, there were more than 111,000 calls for service.

Animal neglect and cruelty are a problem in our city, which is why ACS recently added five more officers to its force. 

KSAT reporter Sarah Acosta followed an ACS officer for the day to see the cases they face firsthand.

Animal Care Service Officer Joey Olivares is an animal lover, which is why he applied for the job. You can see that love with every call he makes, like when he responded to an abandoned puppy that got into a South Side yard.

"Collar is too tight. Yeah, there you go. You can breathe now," Olivares said while cutting the puppy's tight collar off. 

Olivares is one of the now 45 ACS officers working the streets. He responds to 18 to 24 calls a day, most of which are calls for stray dogs or dumped puppies.

Within just an hour and a half of following him, he already had a full vehicle.

During our follow, he was called out to a call for puppies dumped on a South Side lawn. He said, luckily, the puppies were in good health.

"They are both pretty fat," Olivares said.

His next call was also on the South Side, where a recent stray mama dog was trapped in a front yard.

"You OK, baby? You a good girl?" Olivares said as he gently coaxed the dog out of a cage and cut off the rope around her chest and neck. 

He said a lot of his calls are for abuse or neglect of animals in extreme temperatures.

"Embedded collars are super, super sad," Olivares said. "Heat exhaustion, freezing. It's all over the place."

Lisa Norwood, with Animal Care Services, said severe weather calls happen a lot, unfortunately.

"Some cases are what we would call everyday neglect," Norwood said. "Some cases are very extreme, but it is something we see quite regularly."

She said the solution comes down to one word: responsibility, with the community fixing holes in the fence and fixing their animals.

"This isn't something we can do alone, not with 40 officers, not with 400 officers," Norwood said.

Some of the rules animal owners can be cited for include not providing sufficient shelter for animals in extreme heat or cold, not keeping fences repaired. Loose animals can be collected by ACS, and officers deal with any type of severe abuse.

ACS said fines start at $300 and can go up to $3,000, which are determined by a city judge.

For a list of all of the rules that animal owners must abide by in San Antonio, visit the ACS website.

San Antonio also provides free spaying and neutering for these ZIP codes: 78201, 78202, 78203, 78204, 78207, 78208, 78210, 78211, 78212, 78213, 78214, 78218, 78220, 78221, 78222, 78223, 78224, 78225, 78227, 78228, 78235, 78237, 78242

For information on how to apply, click here.


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