Since 2018, the ACS has received 14,343 complaints of bites from residents of the city. Of these complaints, only 1,097 affidavits were filed by victims.
SAN ANTONIO — Under Texas law, an affidavit must be filed by a dog attack victim or witness before San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) can investigate the dog for dangerous or aggressive behavior.
ACS officials say the dogs involved in last month’s fatal mutilation of an elderly man were never the subject of sworn statements despite a history of attacks in the West Ward. Without the victim’s affidavit, ACS says officers could not further investigate their previous attacks.
According to information obtained through an open registration request, ACS has received 14,343 complaints from San Antonio residents since 2018. Of those, just under 1,100 affidavits were filed by victims.
Currently, there are 111 dogs deemed dangerous by the ACS. Heather Ginsburg lives next to four of them on the north side. ACS designated the dangerous dogs last year after the Ginsburg attack and filed an affidavit.
Despite the designation, state law allows dogs to return to their owners if they meet certain requirements. Owners can also entrust their animals to ACS.
“The dangerous dog affidavit did absolutely nothing for us to protect our safety,” Ginsburg said.
She said the affidavit only served to create tension between her and the neighbors.
State Senator Jose Menendez is working on legislation to improve the affidavit process. Some ideas include making the reporting process anonymous or having the affidavit fulfill the duty of the responder at the scene of a dog attack.
“Who is going to put their family at risk? Nobody. We have to find a way to get the report and the action against a dangerous dog out of the hands of the victims, because we don’t want to make the situation worse for the neighbors,” Menendez said. .
ACS spokeswoman Lisa Norwood said current state law clarifies why a victim impact statement is necessary to move an investigation forward.
“It’s meant to provide checks and balances to ensure that the actual victim of crime is able to tell their story. And then we can use that story to make sure that owner is accountable,” he said. she stated.
Menendez also examines the current process for filing and notarizing the affidavit. Ginsburg said she had to take time off work to go to ACS to file hers; she thinks the affidavit should be done the same day of an attack when the officer responds.
“Maybe while they’re already there I could have filled it out and they could have notarized it,” Ginsburg said.
Menendez said a simple solution would be for all ACS officers to become notaries or remove the requirement altogether.
The state senator continues to seek comment and has already met with attorneys, the city attorney and the city manager for comment. In a statement, Norwood said ACS looks forward to partnering with Menendez in the coming weeks:
“This is a conversation that we are having not only with our senator, but also with other animal control authorities across the state who face similar issues in dealing with irresponsible pet owners with menacing dogs threatening our neighborhoods and our residents.
“Whether it’s revised legal procedures or entirely new legislation to strengthen accountability, the goal will be to prevent more families from facing the tragedy of a dog attack.”