SAN ANTONIO — Animal Care Services officials say the dogs who were euthanized following the fatal attack of an 81-year-old had at least three prior bite reports. Officials say the dogs killed Ramon Najera and injured his wife Juanita Najera, a San Antoni Firefighter, and a child in the westside neighborhood.
Under state law, dogs are still considered property, which is part of the reason why the dogs were returned to owner Christian Moreno. The dogs escaped their yard when the attack happened according to police.
ACS says because a victim did not come forward and file an affidavit for the previous three incidents, the dogs were allowed to return to their owner after a ten-day quarantine period.
Neighbors tell KENS 5 the dogs were an issue long before Friday’s attack.
“We’d call [Animal Control] and they’d pass by here, drive by here and we were just, okay are you going to stop?” said Belinda Rodriguez, a neighbor who recorded the mauling. KENS 5 is not showing the video.
Although multiple reports were made about the dogs, ACS says they are required under state law to return them if a report isn’t filed.
“In Texas, dogs are considered property so we can’t take anybody’s property, however when the bites occurred, the owners were compliant,” Lt. Bethany Snowden with ACS told KENS 5.
“In my opinion, it’s unfair to put the blame on the prior victims for not filing affidavits,” Kelly Walls, an animal advocate who has criticized ACS in the past, believes there are other means for ACS to further investigate those cases.
Councilwoman Teri Castillo, who visited the west side neighborhood after the attack happened, agrees that the process should be improved.
““If we have a victim of an aggressive animal, we should have outreach to go and follow up on what the next step is,” Councilwoman Castillo told KENS 5. She acknowledges that ACS is simply following the state law.
Castillo wants to adequately support ACS, which asked for an additional 14 positions to address staffing issues back in August.
According to a budget presentation, ACS received $18.5 million in the 2022 fiscal year, and received $21. 4 million in the 2023 budget.
ACS believes they did everything within their power to address the aggressive dogs within their guidelines.
“It’s easy to point the finger, you know? But it really comes down to being a responsible owner,” Field Operations Manager Aimee DeContreras said.
Dog owner Christian Moreno is facing felony charges which are punishable by up to 20 years in prison.