SAN ANTONIO — Weeks before a pack of dogs killed an elderly man on the city's west side, a Texas lawmaker made a push to strengthen legislation against owners of dogs with a history of attacks.
In January, State Rep. Liz Campos filed H.B. 1653 after her elderly neighbors in San Antonio were attacked by a pit bull on two separate occasions.
"The second time I was coming home from the store and my neighbor, Janie Salazar, was face down on the sidewalk, and the dog had attacked her. He knocked her down and he was about to really attack her. But the owner came out and grabbed him," said Rep. Campos.
A dog owner herself, the issue hits home for Campos. It's also high on her priorities after an 81-year-old man died last Friday after a vicious mauling near her district on the west side.
"It's heartbreaking to know that this man got mauled to death. It is just very, very sad. And I feel really, really bad for the family," said Campos.
She specifically wants to hold owners of dogs with repeated attacks accountable.
According to an arrest affidavit, 31-year-old Christian Moreno and his dogs had a documented history of attacks in their neighborhood before the Feb. 24 mauling.
"After seeing what happened this weekend, I think the penalty may need to be a little bit higher again, because the owners need to take responsibility for their dogs," Campos said.
She plans to revisit the bill.
For now, the proposed bill as written, would upgrade the penalty from a Class C misdemeanor to a Class B misdemeanor. Under Texas law, a Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a fine of as much as $2,000, or both.
"We need to put it out there. We need to put the message out there. People need to know that it's a serious issue," she said. "We just cannot let this happen."