A troubling image posted on social media has led to an investigation at Animal Care Services after many people expressed outrage over the treatment of a small dog.
The incident happened in the 200 block of Thorain Boulevard on the near northwest side.
Neighbors said that a renter, who was suddenly evicted and left in a rush, abandoned three of their five dogs, leaving them behind like trash.
Neighbors said that the dogs were unrestrained and causing problems, chasing people and other animals in the street. Two of the dogs were captured without incident. A third dog was captured with the aid of a humane trap.
Shannon Sims, the assistant director of Animal Care Services, said that when an animal care officer arrived to impound the dog, he used what is commonly called a catch pole to gain control of the animal. It is a long pole with a noose at the end.
A picture taken by a bystander shows the officer fixed the noose on the small dog and suspended him in mid-air while he walked the length of a long driveway, causing the animal to be in extreme distress.
“Immediately after obtaining the picture yesterday morning, the officer was pulled from the field and placed on administrative duties, which is standard protocol for Animal Care Services anytime we have allegations of inhumane treatment,” Sims said.
ACS called the incident inappropriate not aligned with their training.
“We are going to conduct an extremely thorough investigation and if there's disciplinary action that needs to be taken, then we will do so,” Sims said.
Sims added that the action in the photograph is not characteristic of ACS personnel.
“We have a staff here that is very, very dedicated to the treatment of these animals and to saving these animals. We have folks that are here because they choose to be here,” she said. “We've got some very highly educated individuals that could be making a lot more money doing something else but they choose to be involved in animal welfare and trying to resolve some of the animal-related issues that we have in the city of San Antonio.”
Sims also said the dog in the photograph would be held for observation while the investigation continued. Two other dogs seized from the home were offered for adoption.
Sims said there is no timeline for how long it will be before a decision is made or what kind of discipline the officer may face.
ACS is also looking for the dog owners, who they said moved away and left their pets to fend for themselves.