Ben Bolt – A total of 25 Shih Tzu dogs were rescued from inhumane conditions by the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Office from two locations.
On Monday, Aug. 21, deputies removed eight dogs from a "chicken coop" on a property owned by Claudio Domingo Barrera Jr. on Arizpe Street. On Friday, Aug. 18, 17 dogs were removed from a residence on Third Street.
According to Sgt. Gilbert Saenz, he was able to obtain an arrest warrant for Claudio Domingo Barrera Jr. for cruelty to animals due to reports filed by concerned citizens. The charge is a class A misdemeanor and can be punishable with 180 days to a year in jail and a fine not to exceed $4,000.
Barrera was arrested on Sunday, Aug. 20 and booked into the JWC jail. He was released on Sunday with a $10,000 bond.
Deputies had approached Barrera on July 21 when the initial report was filed. Barrera was warned about the conditions and the consequences if he failed to improve the animals living conditions, Saenz stated.
When deputies went for a follow up on Aug. 7 and 17, the conditions hadn't changed.
The dogs were housed in a “chicken coops” with no adequate food or water. The dogs smelled of urine, had no bedding, and some adults dogs had mange on their faces. There were rusty nails sticking out of the aluminum siding and chicken wire kennel.
When deputies arrived at Barrera's home during the first rescue, they attempted to make contact with him, however, he was not home at the time. With warrant in hand, deputies and the concerned citizens began to catch the dogs.
The women and a deputy assisting in the rescue entered the “kennel” to safely capture every dog. The dogs were than placed in kennels to be transported to an undisclosed location.
Barrera had been fined in 2015 for running a puppy mill in his backyard, but he was never arrested. According to Saenz, Barrera had told him that he would find the dogs in the street and take them home.
This is the second time deputies have seized dogs from Barrera. According to Yolanda Marquez, one of the rescuers, she was told that Barrera had been running puppy mills since the 1980s.
During Barrera's court date, the judge will determine who gets ownership of the dogs. According to Saenz, if the county does the dogs will be released to rescue shelters were they can be cared for with the hopes of finding homes.