SAN ANTONIO - He's a Chihuahua who weighs only five pounds, but he may become the poster-dog for Animal Care Services' tough campaign against pets that bite.
Now some animal lovers are accusing ACS of being too aggressive in going after the wrong kinds of dogs. They claim the agency is slow to respond to dangerous dogs running loose in the street, but they're quick to take a woman to court because her Chihuahua nipped somebody.
Beau is a sweet, cuddly dog most of the time, but like many Chihuahua's, he can be feisty. Like when a maintenance man was doing some work in his owner's apartment and startled Beau.
“My dog nipped him on the ankle when he was approaching me. I would not have considered it a bite. There was definitely a little red mark there, but there was no active bleeding," says Julie Kruger, Beau’s owner.
Kruger says the repair man just shrugged it off, but later apartment management made him go to urgent care, which is required to report dog bites no matter how minor.
Next thing she knew, Julie received five citations totaling more than $1,300 for, among other things, failing to keep Beau on a restraint. Kruger says that doesn’t make sense.
“Again, it was in my apartment and I shouldn't have to keep my dog on a leash or restraint inside my apartment. I just think there are other, more important issues that the city's bite enforcement department needs to be going after.”
She's not alone. When we went to Animal Care Services for their comment a man came hurrying up to us. Kelvin Payne says he's been trying for months to get ACS to pick up a pack of dogs running loose next to his church where they growl and sometimes chase people showing up to worship.
“When they run in packs and one of them gets after you, that is a bigger threat than this little Chihuahua nipping at the heels,” Payne told us.
So we asked the city's top animal enforcement officer if tax dollars are better spent rounding up dangerous dogs loose on the street, or taking a Chihuahua’s owner to court.
ACS Assistant Director Vincent Medley told us, “We're not taking Chihuahua owners to court because we went out and searched them out. A bite occurred. It's a mandatory report. The state law requires a quarantine. That's how it is.”
Next I asked Medley about something Julie Kruger and other dog owners are surprised to learn: dogs must be restrained, even inside your home.
Medley says that's what he does with his pit bull.
“My pit bull is a nice dog, but I don't know what he's going to do if a stranger comes into my house.”
Medley says even Chihuahuas and other small dogs need to be restrained inside the home, even though they don’t seem to pose the same danger as a larger animal.
“I don't know, could you get scared? Fall over something? Bust your head open? Like we’ve seen happen? Yes,” said Medley.
It’s hard to imagine Beau scaring anyone that much, but ACS won't budge. They're throwing the book at the little guy.
While the pack of dogs over near the church runs free.