Gabriel Garcia of Las Cruces, NM was indicted by a grand jury last month on one count of first-degree kidnapping, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, battery, criminal sexual contact and assault. The indictment stems from a May 31 incident in which a female victim reported that she was held in Garcia’s home against her will while he physically assaulted her, made sexual advances toward her and threatened her with further harm if she told anyone about the crimes. At one point during the ordeal, Garcia allegedly ordered his 9 month old pitbull puppy to bite the victim but the dog bit Garcia instead. This allegedly further enraged Garcia further who grabbed a hammer and stepped up his threats.
The victim was finally able to escape the home and police arrested Garcia, who bonded out of jail. AC impounded the dog for a standard 10 day bite quarantine at the city shelter in Las Cruces. At the end of the quarantine, the pound gave the dog back to Garcia.
“From what I have heard, there was no reason to believe the dog would be in any danger in returning it to the owner,” [Curtis] Childress [Animal Cruelty Coordinator for the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office],wrote in an email. “As for the owner, he has a right to have his property returned. Animals in New Mexico are considered personal property.”
No reason to believe the dog would be in any danger from a violent twit who is likely holding a grudge against the dog.
“Animal Control had no cause to keep the dog,” Childress wrote in an email. “The decision to return it would have come from the animal shelter.” […]
Animal Services Center of the Mesilla Valley, the shelter that housed the dog, did not reply to a request for comment. Childress speculates that it’s “unlikely” the shelter hesitated to return the animal.
No hesitation. Because a dog is exactly like a lamp.
The Las Cruces pound states on its website:
The Mission of the Animal Service Center of the Mesilla Valley is to provide safe shelter for all lost, mistreated, and abandoned animals of the Mesilla Valley and surrounding communities. The Center (ASCMV) utilizes all avenues available to it in placing each animal into a safe, loving and permanent home whenever possible. We strive to meet highest standards of humane animal care and to promote responsible pet ownership through public education and outreach.
Safe shelter for mistreated animals. Safe and loving home. Responsible pet ownership.
It’s not at all clear to me how returning the dog to Garcia is in any way consistent with the stated mission. ASCMV had a dog who was being mistreated by the owner – and make no mistake, anyone who attempts to sic his dog on a victim he’s hoping to rape is mistreating that animal – but instead of protecting that dog, they returned him to the abuser.
This failure is the result of a culture of killing within our broken shelter system. Animals are devalued to the point where anyone on the job who might care is broken down and made complicit and monsters who actually enjoy hurting animals are attracted to the job. Within this backwards structure where animals are supposed to be protected but instead are killed for convenience on a mass scale, is it so surprising that no one would “hesitate” to return an animal to an abuser? Because in the end, what’s the difference?
(Thanks Arlene for sending me this story.)