SAN ANTONIO – An employee with Animal Care Services fired last year after leaving a euthanized dog in a transport vehicle has lost his bid to be reinstated, according to Human Resources records provided to the KSAT 12 Defenders.
Animal care specialist Eric Perez was fired last February, weeks after the dead animal was discovered by an ACS co-worker inside a “mule,” small transport vehicle used to move animals and supplies throughout the shelter’s property.
Perez euthanized the dog in late December 2019, then failed to move its remains to a cooler and left work without cleaning or sanitizing the vehicle, a city investigation found.
The deceased dog remained in the mule for nearly 24 hours, according to city records.
Perez appealed his termination to the city’s Municipal Civil Service Commission, which due to COVID-19 restrictions was unable to hear his case until mid-December.
The commission unanimously recommended that Perez’s termination be upheld, and City Manager Erik Walsh concurred with the recommendation Dec. 21, city records show.
Perez’s firing capped off a career with the city marred by discipline problems, records show.
Just two months before the euthanized dog incident, in October 2019, Perez was suspended two days after a separate investigation found that he took two bags of dog food and two containers of laundry detergent at the end of his shift, records show.
An ACS supervisor witnessed the incident and a security camera captured footage of it, records show.
ACS officials at first contemplated firing Perez, but instead issued the suspension after Perez accepted responsibility and said he would not engage in that sort of conduct again, according to his discipline paperwork.
When asked if the incident was forwarded to law enforcement, An ACS spokeswoman told the Defenders via email:
“Mr. Perez was a registered participant in a former ACS program open to the public called the ‘Pet Pantry.’ The Pet Pantry collected donations of pet food, equipment, and cleaning supplies from the community as a resource for residents in need as well as public participants in shelter programs like the ACS foster initiative. The Pet Pantry program had specific rules for participation as well as a prescribed process for receiving resources. Mr. Perez, in his role at Animal Care Services, was determined to have circumvented those rules and obtained supplies outside the prescribed process. Given the small value of items Mr. Perez incorrectly secured and the fact he was eligible to receive them had he followed the correct process, correction for this violation was completed through the City’s progressive disciplinary process. While Animal Care Services still obtains supply donations from the public for our shelter pets, the Pet Pantry program is now done in partnership with Daisy Cares, an initiative of the San Antonio Food Bank.”
Personnel records for Perez also detail significant attendance issues.
In 2015, Perez was suspended after racking up both tardies and unscheduled absences, records show.
A 2014 suspension for similar attendance issues was later rescinded, after the paperwork was found to be missing the then-director’s signature, according to records.
An employee review of Perez in 2019, just days before the euthanized dog incident, noted that Perez had requested that tardies and absences from work not be counted against him.
“Eric does not always strive to make honesty and transparency the foundation for his actions,” the review states.
The review concluded with Perez being given an employee score of 1, the lowest score possible, according to the city’s rating matrix.
Four employee reviews included in Perez’s personnel file noted his issues with work attendance.
“...leaning back in your chair with your eyes closed, mouth open and arms at your side, asleep and snoring while on duty.”
A city security guard assigned to the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center was fired in April after he was repeatedly found sleeping on the job, Human Resources records show.
Richard Jasso appealed his termination to the Municipal Civil Service Commission in December, after it was also delayed several months due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The commission, just as it had in Perez’s case, unanimously recommended that the termination be upheld.
Walsh agreed with the commission’s decision last month, records show.
In March, a city facilities manager found Jasso asleep in a security post near a loading dock, records show.
“Upon investigation, he found you leaning back in your chair with your eyes closed, mouth open and arms at your side, asleep and snoring while on duty,” Jasso’s discipline paperwork states.
Jasso eventually woke up after his name was loudly called and the manager tapped on a counter multiple times, records show.
It was the fourth time Jasso was found sleeping while on duty, according to city records.
In June 2019, Jasso was found asleep by the facility’s interim general manager, records show.
Two days later, a supervisor found Jasso asleep with a headphone in his ear and his phone turned sideways playing a video, according to Jasso’s personnel file.
Three months later, in September 2019, the interim general manager again found Jasso asleep as the GM was leaving for the day.
“Even though the GM’s car was parked approximately 5 feet away from the guard booth, you did not wake up when the vehicle was started and drove away,” a supervisor wrote.