Sunday, May 21, 2017

Texas: Pit bull attacks man and his dog, causing $9,000+ in medical bills. Animal Control gives pit bull back to owner, refuses to try to get pit bull deemed dangerous.

TEXAS -- A Victoria man is worried the dog that viciously attacked him and his Pekingese in February may strike again.

"It's not a matter of if but when he's going to do it again," said Gilbert Hernandez, 51. "What if he attacks a woman with a baby or a child?"

Hernandez said he is frustrated and alarmed the pit bull that almost killed his dog and inflicted injuries on him that cost more than $9,000 in medical bills was given back to its owners by Animal Control.

The pit bull, he said, continues to live around the corner from his house in a neighborhood where strolling women and playing children are a common sight.

Trinity Episcopal School is about 700 feet from where the attack occurred.

Hernandez was walking his dog, Boo, 9, the evening of Feb. 14 about a block away from his house when a gray-and-white pit bull he estimated at 90 pounds attacked him unprovoked.

"I saw him out of the corner of my eye," Hernandez said. "He lunged. He jumped and bit my chest and just clamped on. Once he let go, I was just spewing blood."

For about 45 minutes, Hernandez, who weighs more than 200 pounds, fought and wrestled with the dog, which continued to attack him despite his best efforts to defend himself.

"I hit this guy with everything I had," he said.

According to a Victoria Police Department report, officers found Hernandez sitting on top of the dog, which had fresh blood on its jaws, after they had received a call reporting a disturbance.

According to that report, the pit bull could have escaped after recent rains collapsed the roof of its kennel.

Hernandez suffered bites to his chest, knees and arms and required two stitches. He still bears significant scarring from those wounds.

He was transported by ambulance to Citizens Medical Center for treatment.

But Boo fared far worse. The less than 14-pound Pekingese required three internal stitches and two staples to seal a gaping shoulder wound inflicted from the pit bull's teeth, Hernandez said.

And Boo has also suffered mental, post-traumatic stress from the attack.

"It screwed him up big time. After the attack, he couldn't go down that road. He would stop and back up. It would freak him out," he said.

Hernandez now avoids the area where the attack occurred and also carries a gun.

For Hernandez, seeing Boo in such shape was extremely distressing.

"Boo is not my pet. He's not my dog. He's my child," he said.

When he was gifted Boo, the dog was about a month old and fit in the palm of his hand. Hernandez, a combat veteran who served in Iraq, said he found the puppy had a miraculous affect on the mental demons he has born from his military service.

"When I have a bad day ... he jumps on top of me. He kisses me a million times, and I just melt," Hernandez said.

Those mental and physical traumas as well as the violent and unprovoked nature of the pit bull's attack should have meant severe penalties for its owner, he said.


According to Victoria County Animal Control records, the dog was returned to its owner after a 10-day quarantine.

Those records show the pit bull, named Sensei, belongs to a Louis Martinez, who lives in the 600 block of West Nueces Street. Members of the Martinez family declined to comment.

Louis Sylvester Martinez (aka Louis Lechuga Martinez), 59, 607 W Nueces St, Victoria, TX 77901.

Hernandez said the family was fined by animal control, but the Advocate was unable to confirm the charge or the amount of the fine.

Hernandez has hired an attorney and is considering suing the owners to recover medical expenses.


According to an ordinance adopted by Victoria County in July 2012, dogs are deemed "dangerous" if a written, formal complaint is lodged. If animal control's director finds reasonable cause, the dog is ordered seized and a hearing is scheduled.

If that hearing finds the dog is indeed dangerous, it can be ordered destroyed or released but only on numerous conditions.

A dog that is deemed dangerous must be micro-chipped; wear a red, county-issued tag on its collar at all times; and wear a muzzle when outside of its enclosure.

Additionally, owners of dangerous dogs must purchase liability insurance covering at least $100,000.


But those proceedings never started for the pit bull that attacked Hernandez and Boo because a formal complaint was never filed, said an animal control employee who refused to be identified as she supplied the Advocate with requested public information documents.

But Hernandez said he visited animal control twice within a week of the attack to do just that. He said employees told him they "were satisfied with the outcome" of the dog's quarantine and would not accept a complaint.

When Hernandez approached the police department with his problem, he said, they told him the matter was an animal control issue.

Animal control's chief officer could not be reached for comment.

Furthermore, animal control has noted the dog's behavior in its own documents, corroborating much of Hernandez's claims. 

Animal control records describe the dog that attacked Hernandez as a large, "very aggressive" dog that made an "unprovoked" attack.

While Christy Bear, pit bull advocate and president of the Crossroads nonprofit Rebel Rescue, said humans are to blame for the pit bull's attack, "every animal is capable of aggression because they cannot communicate their feelings outside of action."

Fixing future bad behavior, she said, is not about punishing a dog but about understanding what human or environmental effects led to the attack.

"What is the animal's story, and why don't people concern themselves with that in these situations?" she said. "Every animal can attack a person depending on the circumstances. I urge the public to consider the circumstances over the breed of an animal."

And I would urge Christy Bear to quit trying to push pit bulls on us and focus on the pit bull owners. Mandatory sterilization unless the dog is registered (AKC, UKC). Mandatory muzzles when out in public. Mandatory liability insurance for owners.

(Victoria Advocate - May 20, 2017)

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