ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A City of Albuquerque Animal Welfare employee will not be getting his dog back after the city says that dog jumped over a wall and killed a neighbor’s Chihuahua.
The decision followed a KRQE News 13 Special Assignment which found the city violated its own dangerous dog law.
The dog’s owner, Ray Marquez, told KRQE News 13 on Monday, “I’m very sorry for the loss of their dog. As far as my dog being a dangerous dog, I don’t think she is.”
Marquez, a veterinary assistant with Animal Welfare, tried to make that case Monday morning during his dangerous dog appeal hearing.
Marquez’s Australian Shepherd mix, “Aurora,” jumped the wall to her yard in February, killing a neighbor’s Chihuahua named “Bootsy.”
“I was devastated,” Bootsy’s owners, Loretta and Louie Garcia, told KRQE News 13.
“The dog was shaking its head back and forth like this with the Chihuahua in its mouth,” Nial Tack, a neighbor who witnessed the attack, said during Monday’s hearing.
According to “Angel’s Law,” the city’s own dangerous dog ordinance, if a dog kills a person or pet the city must take custody of that dog.
But a KRQE News 13 investigation found the city gave Aurora back to the Animal Welfare employee just a week after the incident.
Animal Welfare Officer Allen Hargis testified during Monday’s hearing that Marquez should not have been able to reclaim Aurora, and doesn’t know how it happened.
The Garcias said they weren’t notified the dangerous dog was back home, and only realized after she jumped the fence a second time.
“This dog is standing at my yard growling at me and barking at me in my own yard,” Louie Garcia said during Monday’s hearing. “That’s what upset me.”
The couple said they were afraid to go into their own back yard, fearing for the safety of their elderly Chihuahua and baby grandson.
“She already knows that she can get back and forth over the fence,” said Loretta, referring to Aurora.
Aurora was home for another month, and only re-appeared back in city custody the day after KRQE News 13 called about the case.
When asked by the city’s attorney why he took Aurora back into city custody the second time, Marquez said he got a call from Animal Welfare Corporal Kathryn Waite suggesting he do so.
Marquez claims he was not informed that he can appeal his case until later, and claims he received no special treatment from Animal Welfare.
“I found out that I can appeal the verdict and that’s why I reclaimed her,” Marquez told KRQE News 13.
He said there was no note initially in the system prohibiting him from reclaiming Aurora.
“If there was special treatment the case would be thrown out,” Marquez told KRQE News 13.
He told the hearing officer he raised his fence and wants Aurora back.
However, the administrative hearing officer upheld the dangerous dog declaration, granting the city custody of Aurora.
The Garcias were relieved.
“I don’t have to worry about my wife or my grandson being back there,” said Louie Garcia.
The dangerous dog will either be euthanized or go to a rescue, but it cannot be adopted out.
Marquez currently owns three other dogs. The city now has a month to determine whether Marquez will be declared an “irresponsible owner.” If he is found irresponsible, by law, the vet assistant would not be allowed to own any dogs for at least two years.