Message from RPOA -San Antonio is the most anti-pet city in Texas

>From RPOA Texas Outreach and
Responsible Pet Owners Alliance
Crossposting is encouraged.
February 24, 2012

San Antonio is the most anti-pet city in Texas and has one of the most
restrictive anti-pet ordinances in the US. Costly annual permits are
required for owning all species of pets and livestock in the city, even
owning more than 3 feathered “friends.” San Antonio has been trying to
extend their ordinance to cover all of Bexar County for years.

Wall Street Journal
OR Tiny URL:

Special Court Puts Pet Owners on a Leash
San Antonio Seeks to Crack Down on Bites, Strays; City Official Says Too
Many Believe ‘a Dog Deserves to Run Free’

Every Friday morning, a small courtroom in San Antonio, Texas becomes a
kennel of jurisprudence, dealing with dog bites, strays, and mistreatment of

Municipal Court Judge Daniel Guerrero carefully considers alleged crimes
involving canines of all sort-Labradors, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus-and even the
occasional cat, whose owners must appear in court to defend charges that
carry fines ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

San Antonio’s animal court may be unique in the U.S., legal experts say.
City officials decided it was needed to crack down on recurring civic
problems that weren’t getting requisite attention on regular courts’
dockets, such as dog bites, stray pets and residents who fail to register
and vaccinate their animals.

But the 10-month-old court is part of a larger trend in which cities are
forming specialized tribunals to deal with distinct populations, such as
drug addicts or the mentally ill. The goal is to allow judges to develop a
deeper understanding of certain kinds of offenses, and better fashion
appropriate punishments for those who commit them.

Joe Angelo, the interim director of San Antonio’s Animal Care Services
department, said the court is part of a larger effort to change the climate
in the city of 1.3 million, where more than 3,000 residents annually are
bitten by dogs and more than 150,000 stray dogs roam city streets on any
given day.

It sends a clear message, he said: “Irresponsible pet ownership will not be

But critics, including many San Antonio pet owners, say the city is often
prosecuting picayune offenses. The city has collected more than $250,000 in
fines against pet owners since the court was formed. Officials said they
didn’t have comparable data from previous years readily available.

“Why are they wasting taxpayer money on this nonsense?” said Ramal Shaw, 32
years old, who faces charges that his Chihuahua, Phillie, bit his 6-year-old
son, who had complained to his school nurse. It was only a scratch, said Mr.
Shaw, adding that his son was just trying to “play hooky” from class.

Mr. Shaw and his fiancée were able to persuade the prosecutor to knock $50
off the $269 fine, but planned to keep pushing to have the rest forgiven.
“That’s still too much,” said Mr. Shaw, noting that he has been out of work
for more than a year. Although his fiancée is employed, “we’re living
paycheck to paycheck,” he says.

Karla Posada was recently in court representing her sister, who faced about
$4,000 in fines for allegedly failing to contain, license and vaccinate her
four Shih Tzus, after two of the dogs escaped from a garage and were
reported by a neighbor.

Ms. Posada was able to delay her sister’s case so that they could line up a
lawyer. “It’s not fair,” she said. “These dogs have shelter and are loved.”

Animal cases in San Antonio used to be farmed out at random to the city’s
municipal court judges, who often didn’t give the cases enough attention or
hand down sufficiently stiff punishments, according to city officials.

Some defense lawyers say the animal court is a symptom of a larger problem.

“We have moved towards an over-criminalization model, where everything is
punishable by jails or fines,” said Lisa Wayne, the president of the
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. San Antonio, she said,
would be better off “educating people about their animals rather than
punishing them.”

But David LaBahn, the president of the Washington, D.C.-based Association of
Prosecuting Attorneys, said San Antonio should be commended. “To get courts
to take these cases seriously can be a real challenge,” said Mr. LaBahn, who
previously prosecuted animal-cruelty cases in California.

Vincent Medley, the assistant director of San Antonio’s animal-services
department, says residents’ attitudes need to change. Too many pet owners in
the city, he said, believe “a dog deserves to run free; he should be able to
go out and see his girlfriend-and his other girlfriend.”

~ by topcatsroar on February 24, 2012.

5 Responses to “Message from RPOA -San Antonio is the most anti-pet city in Texas”

  1. SA is one of the worse cities (from my standpoint) when it comes to responsible pet guardianship. I survived a year down there. I saw numerous dead carcasses of dogs and cats. So called owners allow there dogs run amuck throughout their neighborhoods. Many people abandon their animals in parks. One sees starving cats esp. in the parks, but you see dogs as well. The cops don’t enforce jack when it comes to the furry kids. That city SUCKS especially for the animals – they should be ashamed.

  2. Good day I am so happy I found your weblog, I really found
    you by error, while I was searching on Aol for
    something else, Regardless I am here now and would just like to say many thanks for
    a incredible post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to go through it all at the minute but I have book-marked it and also added in your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the fantastic work.

    • And to think I was considering quitting…TY for the encouragement!!! The topic is so frustrating considering how corrupt the court system has become…when there is no defense, they attack the person filing complaint…or claim immunity…totally insane…the issue being a breach of civil liberties and not adhering to the laws…other ‘issue settled’ but in many of these cases…over and over again, we see the same mistakes and breaches…at some point you just have to try to make it stop-I am no friend to Animal Rights Extremists or anyone claiming rescue when it’s not…all done at taxpayer expense-my biggest beef!!! Best -B

  3. Scam artists certainly would, although good attorneys would
    neveer mmake a claim like that. There is nothing so cut and dry abot a casethat it could easily be seen as a win before the
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    They telll you that they will win yourcase no matter what and
    inn the event you ‘re going to talk to some lawyer, it is
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    • Are you actually an attorney or is that your handle-just asking…I don’t want the readers of this blog mis-led and certain that you would understand if, in fact, you are an attorney-Hello -B

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