Animals barking, biting all part of the overnight shift for Animal Care Services officers

2 teams work all-night long

SAN ANTONIO – For nearly a year, Officer Trinidy Guevara and her partner, Estephan Centeno, have been burning the midnight oil and more, by chasing down barking, biting and abandoned animals.

They make up one of two teams working a relatively new overnight shift for Animal Care Services.

Each workday, the pair start at 7 p.m. and sign out at 5 a.m., responding to calls from both the 311 city services number and 911 emergency line.

“Nothing will prepare you for what we see overnight,” Guevara said. “Third shift, you know, is an entirely different creature than day shift.”

They definitely see a lot of different creatures overnight, everything from bats, to stray dogs and cats, to snakes.

When the public calls, their job is to answer.

“The type of calls that we respond to, it’s a lot more than people think,” Centeno said.

Often, that also includes helping San Antonio police.

They are called in to rescue pets from people who have committed crimes, such as driving drunk with their animals in their vehicles.

The officers say that type of call happens more than they would like.

Both were attracted to the job due to their love of animals.

When ACS added the overnight shift nearly a year ago, they both jumped at the chance to do it.

On one recent night, they were called by neighbors for a dog in distress inside an apartment complex’s laundry room.

Centeno discovered the pup was pregnant, but otherwise OK.

“She’s got food, she’s got water, blanket pads,” he said after observing the surroundings. “Either someone’s really nice, or maybe somebody dumped her.”

Either way, he and Guevara would make sure the dog got a safe ride to their shelter.

Within minutes, though, they were on their way across town to speak with a couple concerned about a stray cat that had been injured in a fight.

“We didn’t know what else to do. He’s a community cat, so we just felt bad,” said Chris Duran who had called ACS.

The officers ushered the kitty, who the couple named Sylvester, to their truck for a ride to a veterinarian’s office on the city’s Northwest Side.

Kim Buck, DVM/DABVP, with the Animal Emergency Room on Fredericksburg Road, said the cat appeared to have an abscess on its neck.

“We just clean it up, put him on antibiotics, put on some pain medication,” Buck said.

After treatment, Centeno said, the cat will be put up for adoption through ACS.

While the endgame for that animal may include finding a loving home, Guevara says she and her partner find their rewards in their work.

“Everything, I feel, that my team does is very fulfilling and helpful with the city,” she said, smiling.

About the Authors:

Katrina Webber joined KSAT 12 in December 2009. She reports for Good Morning San Antonio. Katrina was born and raised in Queens, NY, but after living in Gulf Coast states for the past decade, she feels right at home in Texas. It's not unusual to find her singing karaoke or leading a song with her church choir when she's not on-air.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.