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In the limbo, investigations about dog attacks

Dogs at the sanitary Landfill

Norberto Carbajo

Perros callejeros

Perros y delitos

By Jesús Aguado

What happens after a hound attacks livestock? What does one do when a person dies after a dog attack? What is the next step when dog, with owners and without have attacked people on different occasions? What do we do when the number of street dogs is up to 23,000 in San Miguel de Allende?

In this city, at least a dozen dogs have been found hanging from trees, mutilated, and even burned in the area close to colonia San Luis Rey. No one has been incriminated, or if it happened, the Ministerio Público (MP) District Attorney’s Office has never informed to the press. This year an expat woman living in Fraccionamiento Temazcalli was found guilty of poisoning five dogs. She had to pay a 2,000 peso fine and offer an apology to the dog owner. Of all of the cases reported in the last two years in the county of San Miguel de Allende, where the best city to visit is located, most of them are in the limbo.

“Capi” Correa, an unfortunate case

At around 5pm on Tuesday, November 14, the 099 emergency number received a call to report a man injured from dog bites near San Julián. The man was 92-year-old José María “Capi” Correa, well-known for promoting sports in this city.

Correa was taken to the general hospital and there, according to information provided to Atención by the Ministerio Público, he died due to lacerations of the carotid artery and jugular vein caused by dog bites.

Norberto Carbajo, director of the Ecology Department said that four dogs were confiscated, and they had traces of human blood. The owners of two of them have been identified, and two are still unidentified. The Ministerio Público is investigating the attack.

We requested an interview with District Attorney David Amaro, in order to talk about how owners can be dealt with by the law when their animals attack people. However his Public Relations Director, Antonio León, told us “It does not make any sense. We do not want to speculate on this or any case.”

Missing File

In September 2015, Fernando Yáñez was bitten by a dog. He went to the general hospital for attention. There, he got two stitches in one of the four injuries—at no cost. The next day, he requested that the Ecology Department confiscate the dog, “but they took the wrong dog,” said for Atención Fernando. After a week the injury became infected. A different doctor from the Sanitary Jurisdiction where Yáñez was seen said, “A dog bite should never be stitched.”

Then Yáñez went to the Ministerio Público to file a criminal complaint for the injuries caused by the animal. “At the office, the lawyer treats you horribly and tries the impossible, to convince you that there is not a crime to pursue. But after almost two hours of talking with the attorney, she decided to file my complaint,” said Yáñez. “Besides,” he continued, “since it was not the first time that I was attacked by a dog, the damage was also psychological at that time. At night I had nightmares. In my dreams there were dogs tearing me to pieces; they would not leave. Today, I hear dogs barking on the street, and I feel as if they will come to bite me. I cannot be near dogs now,” commented this victim. For that reason, he was channeled to another agency of the MP. Several psychological exams would be conducted with him to find out if there was damage.

With all the information provided by the victim, the MP contacted the dog owner. “But what the MP does there is just to attempt to solve the issues or crimes or whatever they call them through mediation. They do not want more numbers in their statistics. The system is rotten. The owner of the dog offered me an apology. But the scar looks terrible. How I am going to get rid of it? Who is going to pay for it? There is something clear to me, the Ministerio Público defends the criminals and not the victims. If they do this with a simple case, I do not want to imagine what they do with those [that are] worse,” commented Yáñez.

In two years, the victim has never heard from the MP. In November 2016 he called them to find out the status of his complaint as well as the results of the psychological tests. At the fourth agency, they took his call and said, “We are new here. We arrived this year, and we do not know if your file is lost or archived. Give us time—they never said how long—and we will find it,” assured the man, who gave us a copy with the number of his criminal complaint.

Three Injured by Three Pit Bulls

On August 26, a 45-year-old man was attacked by three dogs in colonia San Antonio. Atención contacted him to find out what the authorities did to help him; however, he did not agree to talk. According to neighbors, he is afraid of the dog’s owner, a man named Diego.

Then some of the neighbors commented that in September 2017 another man (Roger Canon) was attacked by Diego’s dogs. We contacted Canon and he said that Diego’s dogs (the mother and a pup) got out when he wasn’t looking. The mother bit him on the hand, and he hit her on the nose with a book. The pup went for his leg and he kicked her away, receiving no bites. “Diego came out immediately, and the dogs backed off. The bite was not too serious and I eventually went to a consultorio (doctor’s office) for an antibiotic. I just thought it was one of those things that happens and didn’t make a big deal of it. Diego felt pretty bad about the event.”

The neighbors also noted that in July, Diego spent a night “with a wheelbarrow and one of his dogs off leash, stealing paving stones from 20 de Enero.” That morning, the dog attacked a neighbor, who lives and works on Stirling Dickinson. “The dog chewed up his arm, knocked him down, and broke or tried to eat his glasses.” The man is a lawyer and, according to our source of information, “he is using every legal maneuver he can against Diego.”

A third event took place in August when Diego left the house without properly closing the door. A 45-year-old man was returning to his house when the three dogs attacked him. “They brought him to the ground, where his blood remained on the sidewalk and wall for weeks. Both his forearms and both his calves were ripped.  Diego was notified that the attack was in progress, and he came and dragged the dogs home, two by two. Three adult females and one puppy about five weeks old participated in the attack, licking the blood. I accompanied Julio to the hospital in the ambulance. I could see his muscle through one of the wounds in the back of his leg. Hospital employees came by to see the guy. A woman commented that several wounds needed stitches.” In the last two instances, reports were filed at the Municipal facility. The dogs have not been confiscated and, actually, according to the information provided to Atención, they are undernourished.

Sheep Killed by a Hound

Samuel Guerrero from the community of Don Diego has lent his sheep annually for the nativity scene in the kiosk in the Jardín Principal, but this holiday season, his sheep will not be there because canine control did not confiscate some vicious dogs when he reported them. The hounds killed his animals. In an interview with Atención San Miguel Guerrero commented that on Wednesday, August 2, the hounds killed eight sheep. He reported the case to the Ecology Department, “but they did nothing.” The next day at 3am, the dogs attacked and killed seven more sheep. Some of them were pregnant with lambs. He estimated the damage to be in the 25,000 peso range.

Some of the dead sheep were buried. Others with no major damage were given to the people who helped to clean the area. The victim filled out a criminal complaint at the Ministerio Público because he knew who owned the dogs. After that, again he said, “Now the Ecology Department needs to confiscate the dogs.” Norberto Carbajo, Director of Ecology, then told Atención that they will organize a raid to capture dogs from the streets in that community and this way prevent damages in the future.

Guerrero said that, Director Carbajo told him days later that the local government would give him some sheep as social support but let him know, “I should stop damaging the local administration’s image in the media. They told me they would give me 12 animals; then they said 11; and in the end I got 10.” The sheep were handed to Guerrero, but days later, the same dogs slaughtered them. “Again!”

According to Guerrero, the Ministerio Público has not given him a satisfactory solution. They have just said that they are investigating. Guerrero said that the dogs’ owner had been at the offices of the MP. However, she does not want to talk with him, “and the MP does not do anything. Now I am also interested in preventing any attack against a person, but Ecology is now willing to cooperate,” he stated.

For his part, Carbajo said that several raids have taken place in the community, and 30 dogs have been captured. He also assured that some campaigns have been brought to the community to invite people to neuter their animals.

What is the Ecology Department Doing?

Atención had an interview with the director of Ecology, Norberto Carbajo. He said that what happened to Correa was a disgrace and a surprise because he was a well-known man in the city. After the report of the injured man in San Julián, Carbajo assured that people from his department went to the location and captured four dogs with blood traces. Two of the owners were found and two have not been found yet. The dogs were handed over to the Ministerio Público, which opened a file to investigate the attack. The same day, the local administration held a raid in San Julián, but people hid their dogs.

About the case of Don Diego, Director Carbajo said that he has been following the event personally and that on Monday (November 20), his department would go there to confiscate and capture street dogs. He also remarked that 35 dogs from the community are already at the Ecology facilities in the upper area of the city. Carbajo also said that 1,500 dogs have been neutered with the help of nonprofit organizations like Amigos de los Animales and Save a Mexican Mutt. Specifically in San Julián, only five dogs were neutered in the past, and the reason is that people do not want to do it.

In the past two years, said the director, 1,300 dogs have been taken to the Ecology facilities and just 10 percent of them have been claimed. The rest has been killed with pentobarbital. The bodies are buried at the Sanitary Landfill. “We need to control the population of street dogs in the city, and we will make it possible with people’s help. It is estimated that there are 23,000 dogs with no owners in San Miguel.”

The Law Protects the Animals. What About Humans?

Animal torture is a crime according to the Guanajuato Penal Code, Chapter 4, Articles 297 and 298. The code does not prescribe jail for those who kill animals, but the punishments range from a fine of 10 to 100 minimum wages in the state and 90 days of community service.

The local regulation for protecting the animals punishes those who mistreat animals with fines of up to 10,000 pesos.

The same regulation states in its article 39 that when a dog attacks a human, the responsibility belongs to the owner. The same document states that when an attack happens, “the owner of the animal will pay for the damages caused by the attack.”

The records from the Ecology Department state that this year 60 people have reported dog attacks. The records from the Red Cross note 72 reports.

Those who have been bitten by a dog know that a simple injury will take from one to two months to heal. Those who have experienced an attack also know that the Ecology Department is responsible for confiscating the dog, after filling out some forms at that office.

Victims who have been to a hospital, then to the Ecology Department, and later to the Ministerio Público.

In Contrast

The city council approved the use of 3 million pesos for the construction of the first animal hospital in the state. It will be situated by the fair grounds on an 8,500-square-meter area. This project, which dates from 2007, would include two operating rooms, two vet offices, a reception area, recuperation spaces, and an area for socializing with the animals. It would also include areas for offices to work on campaigns to prevent animal proliferation and torture.

The hospital would be administrated by a patronato, which will have the duty of getting financial resources to operate it. The construction cost is 4.8 million pesos and, according to Carbajo, nonprofit organizations and people will donate 1.8 million pesos.

Later, the patronato would have to work to get from 5–6 million pesos to get the equipment. It is expected that the first stone will be placed this year, and after eight months, the building will be finished.


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