County Attorney Press Releases

Westway Resident Faces Civil Penalties For Mistreating Dogs

Possible criminal charges are still pending

El Paso County Attorney José R. Rodríguez announced today the judgment passed upon an individual accused of violating the State Health and Safety Code, by cruelly treating two dogs in Westway, El Paso County.

            Through the coordinated efforts of the City of El Paso's Animal Services, Ernesto Chávez, of Westway, Texas, was charged with cruelly treating two dogs found starving on his property located at 705 Lakewood, in El Paso County, in violation of the Texas Health and Safety Code, section 821.023.

            On March 28, 2009, Animal Services Officer Carolyn Cooley responded to a complaint of two abandoned and starving dogs, at a property located at 705 Lakewood, in far west El Paso County.  Upon arrival, Officer Cooley observed a very emaciated white and brown pitbull mix female canine, which appeared to be starving and her ribs and hip bones were protruding from her body.  There was no visible food or water.  The second dog, a brown boxer, about seven months of age, also appeared to be hungry.  Officer Cooley obtained a warrant and seized the two dogs.  Upon examination, the pitbull weighed less than 32 pounds, when her normal weight should have been between 55 and 60 pounds.  This dog, taken into foster care by New Hope Alliance, and called "Shelly", was taken to a veterinarian, who diagnosed her with Ehrlichia, a disease transmitted by ticks, and a radiography revealed many bone fragments within her intestine.

            On March 31, 2009, Judge Bruce King signed a warrant ordering Animal Services to seize the two dogs, found at 705 Lakewood.

A hearing was held yesterday Wednesday April 8, 2009, before Judge Bruce King, in Justice of the Peace Precinct Number Seven, where the Defendant, Ernesto Chávez agreed to relinquish his rights to the two dogs found on his property, and the dogs were awarded to New Hope Alliance for continued care and future adoption. Mr. Chávez was ordered to pay court costs, veterinarian and medication costs, and investigative costs, which totaled $866.00.  The El Paso County Sheriff's Department is currently investigating animal cruelty violations under the Penal Code.

            "Animal abuse is a serious crime," said Rodríguez.  "No one who cruelly treats his or her animals, by torturing, seriously overworking, unreasonably abandoning, and unreasonably depriving them of necessary food, care, or shelter, or cruelly confining or causing the animal to fight with another animal, should not have the right to own an animal." 

            Rodríguez added that his office will continue to work with Animal Services, the El Paso County Sheriff's Department, and other non-profit organizations whose purpose is to care for abused and neglected animals, in requesting the Court to divest the abuser of ownership of the animal(s).  The penalty for cruelty to animals under the Penal Code ranges from a fine up to $10,000 for an individual, or up to 2 years  in jail, or both fine and incarceration. 

To report animal cruelty, call your local law enforcement agency:  911 if you see it happening; Animal Services 842-1000, El Paso Police Dept. at 832-4400, or El Paso Sheriff's Dept. at 546-2280.

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Animal Cruelty Press Release.pdf