San Antonio ACS touts new hiring days after attorney accuses department of negligence | San Antonio


click to enlarge Animal Control Services boasted that it's hired "closew to 20" officers since October. However, it's unclear if those hiring have had any impact on San Antonio's "Dangerous Dog" problem. - Michael Karlis

Michael Karlis

Animal Control Services boasted that it’s hired “closew to 20” officers since October. However, it’s unclear if those hiring have had any impact on San Antonio’s “Dangerous Dog” problem.

San Antonio Animal Care Services sent out a press release Monday touting the “early impacts” of a strategic plan the embattled city department put in place after a major budget increase last fall.

After City Council voted to bump up ACS’s annual budget by 33% to $28.5 million, the department hired “close to 20” additional animal-care officers, according to the announcement. ACS Director Shannon Sims, who’s set to retire this summer, told council last fall he’d add a total of 29 staffers if given the proposed budget boost.

ACS issued Monday’s release days after attorneys representing a couple charged in a deadly 2023 dog attack told the Express-News that the department’s negligence led to the fatality. The mauling took the life of elderly veteran Ramon Najera, grabbing national headlines and prompting outrage about San Antonio’s problem with loose dogs and its low number of ACS officers.

The pit bulls involved in the February 2023 attack that killed Najera were involved in a separate mauling just one month prior, according to the Express-News. The victim in the first attack suffered bites to their leg and shoulder.

ACS impounded the dogs — owned by couple Christian Alexander Moreno and Abilene Schnieder, who face criminal charges in the second attack — but returned them 11 days later, according to the Express-News. What’s more, ACS workers failed to label either of the canines as “dangerous,” according to the couple’s attorneys.

“The City of San Antonio violated the law — their own obligation to take care of the situation,” criminal defense attorney Jorge Aristotelidis told the judge in the couple’s criminal case Friday, according to the daily. “For some reason that we don’t know, judge, San Antonio animal control released these dogs. I don’t even think there’s a record of who it was that did it. The record-keeping is atrocious.”

In Monday’s news release, ACS said its workers wrote more than 2,300 citations since Oct. 1, the start of the city’s current fiscal year. Its staffers also declared 62 dogs “dangerous” or “aggressive” in that same timeframe.

Even so, the Alamo City has continued to experience dog attacks. Since the start of the city’s current fiscal year, San Antonio has tallied at least four high-profile dog attacks. None has proven fatal.

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