Dog Owners Face Two Felony Charges Each, More Charges Likely
Pit bulls killed one person, hospitalized three others, in horrific pit bull mauling in San Antonio.
Third Arrest Made
UPDATE 03/10/23: A third arrest has been made in connection to the February 24 multi-victim dog mauling that left one man dead, his wife with critical injuries and two other people with bite injuries. The arrest comes after San Antonio police began investigating alleged threats and intimidation against neighbors who witnessed the deadly dog attack and spoke to media. Destiny Marie Cardona, 26, was arrested on March 9 for retaliation, a third-degree felony, court records show.
According to the arrest warrant affidavit, Cardona is the sister of Abilene Schnieder, who co-owned the dogs with her husband, Christian Moreno. Both dog owners continue to be held in the Bexar County Jail; each have been charged with two felonies. On March 3, Cardona went to her sister's home and saw a neighbor who had spoken to media outlets about the attack. Cardona yelled at the witness and threatened to kill the witness and their family member, the affidavit states.
In other news, a report from KABB shows that citations written by San Antonio Animal Care Services (ASC) have fallen dramatically since 2020. From 12,782 citations during the fiscal year of 2020 to 4,758 citations during the fiscal year of 2022, a 63% reduction. The fiscal year of 2020 comprised the first Covid year too, which ran from October of 2019 to September of 2020. Documents uncovered by KABB showed that it was a goal for ACS to issue fewer citations.
Issuing fewer and fewer citations and instead using the "education only" model for dog owners who fail to vaccinate, fail to keep their dogs from roaming at large and commit other violations, has long been part of the "no-kill" shelter model, whose primary goal is a 90% "save rate." Reducing impounds and citations decreases animal intake overall and decreases the number of owner-surrendered animals, whereby reducing euthanasia, even if the cost to public safety is high.
03/01/23: Wife Arrested as Co-Owner
As anticipated, after the wife of a man charged for the February 24 fatal dog attack gave a 29 minute interview to the media, police have charged her too. We stated earlier, “Abilene doesn’t understand that she can also be criminally charged. She’s a co-owner of these dogs that had two bites before the fatal mauling on Friday.” Abilene Schnieder now faces the same two felony charges as her husband, dangerous dog resulting in death and injury to an elderly person.
On Friday, Ramon Najera, Jr., 81, was mauled to death by the couple’s two pit bulls that had a history of escaping their property, biting people and aggressive acts. Three other victims were also injured in the Friday attack, including Najera’s 74-year old wife, a relative and a firefighter. Abilene was previously arrested for theft on January 30. She posted a $3,000 bond and was released from jail that same day. Her husband, Christian Moreno, however, has an extensive criminal history.
According to a document released Monday, the San Antonio Police Department received 39 calls for service in a 14-month period beginning Jan. 1, 2022, concerning Moreno’s residence. Only two of those calls were animal-related. The other calls included 10 complaints about fireworks, disturbances, Child Protection Services, four calls about a “wanted person,” five calls about an abandoned vehicle, two calls about loud music and one call about the sound of a gunshot.
The Moreno-Schnieder home was not exactly neighborhood friendly. Who is surprised the couple also owned dogs with a history of violence?
The couple previously lived in Medina County, reports the San Antonio Express-News. Moreno’s criminal history in that county shows arrests dating back to 2009 for criminal trespassing, possession of a controlled substance, evading arrest or detention, hindering apprehension or prosecution and felony theft of property, reports the Express-News. In 2019 and 2021 Moreno was also arrested by San Antonio police in Bexar County before the February 24 fatal dog mauling.
More charges may follow too. Najera’s wife apparently suffered grave injuries, which also falls under the Texas felony dog attack statute. A person does not need to die in order to pursue charges under the statute. Causing “serious bodily injury” is sufficient for a third-degree felony. The statue is defined as, “death and serious injuries inflicted by dog(s).” If death results, the offense becomes a second-degree felony. Both Schnieder and Moreno remain incarcerated.
An updated report from the Express-News states that animal control now believes that 13 complaints can be traced back to Moreno’s and Schnieder’s dogs since 2020. Regarding the two previous bites by the dogs, neither victim was informed by animal control of their right to file a Dangerous Dogs Affidavit, which forces the agency to start a dangerous dog investigation. Now a Texas state senator is drafting a bill to allow people to fill out these affidavits anonymously.
Other details include that a witness said the two pit bulls that killed Najera “tore a dialysis shunt out of the man’s body” as they attacked him. “It was horrific. It was just blood all over the place,” he told the Express-News. Pit bulls tearing out a “dialysis shunt” has occurred in at least two other fatal dog attacks: the deaths of Michael Parks in 2017 and Ronnel Brown in 2012. Also, Najera’s wife Janie has been released from the hospital and is recovering at a family member’s home.
02/24/23: Multi-Victim Pit Bull Attack
San Antonio, TX – Horrific footage captured by KSAT Friday show firemen fending off multiple pit bulls in order to reach a dying victim. The violent attack occurred just before 2:00 pm in the 2800 block of Depla Street. When the San Antonio Fire Department arrived, they saw an 81-year old man being dragged down the sidewalk by one of the pit bulls involved in the multi-victim attack. His wife was also attacked by the dogs and remains in critical condition at University Hospital.
“Firefighters were very heroic in this instance. They were fighting off these pit bulls with pick axes and pipe poles to try to get to the patients.”
“This is not something normal for us. We usually don’t show up and have to defend patients from animals or ourselves,” SAFD Chief Charles Hood said. One of the firefighters was bitten in the leg, but is okay. A third victim was bitten while trying to help the elderly couple that was being attacked. All three pedestrian victims were transported to University Hospital. “Horrific scene, horrific for the people who experienced it and horrific for our firefighters that were part of this,” Hood said.
The two pit bulls involved in the attack and a third pit bull belonging to the same household that was also unrestrained were confiscated by San Antonio Animal Care Services. Director Shannon Sims said the three dogs -- two females and one male -- were involved in “another” attack two years ago and previously impounded. “We could not move forward with a dangerous dog designation” at that time because an affidavit was not filed by a victim and witness, Sims said.
There were also multiple calls in the past two years about the dogs being estray and neglected, Sims said. Media reports state that Sims described the 2021 attack as a “mild bite.” A commenter on the KSAT 12 Facebook post states there was another attack. “These are the pit bulls that just attacked my Dad in January. Pulled chunks from his arms and legs and left him out of work for weeks. They were ‘investigated’ and left there knowing they had just attacked a human.”
Owner Faces Multiple Felonies
Late Friday, the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) announced that the owner of the dog was arrested under the Texas felony dog attack statute. Christian Alexander Moreno, 31, faces one count of felony attack by dangerous dog causing death and one count of felony injury to an elderly person (the charges will likely increase). SAPD clarified that the 81-year old male and 74-year old female were a married couple who had just exited their vehicle when the dogs viciously attacked.
Arrested - San Antonio Police Department
On February 24, 2023 a couple, an 81 year old man and a 74 year old woman, went to the 2800 block of Depla Street to visit some friends. When they arrived and exited their vehicle, two American Staffordshire Terriers escaped their yard, which was next to the location the couple was visiting. The two dogs attacked the couple, causing visible dog bite injuries to both victims. Witnesses saw the attack and called police and EMS. San Antonio Fire Department EMS arrived to the location and saw the dogs still actively attacking the couple and attempted to intervene. During their efforts one of the EMS Captains was bit in his leg by one of the dogs. The male and female victims and the EMS Captain were all transported to a local hospital for their injuries. Despite efforts by SAFD EMS to save the male victim, he died as a result of the dog attacks. SAPD and City of San Antonio Animal Care Services arrived and began investigating the attack.
The suspect, 31 year old Christian Alexander Moreno, was later arrested by the SAPD Covert Unit and is facing a felony charge of Attack by Dangerous Dog Causes Death and a felony charge of Injury to an Elderly.
WOAI identified the man who died as 81-year-old Ramon Najeras. His wife remains hospitalized. The couple had driven to the area to visit a relative’s home. As soon as they stepped out of their vehicle, the dogs attacked. When firefighters arrived, the attack was still happening. "As they rounded the corner, they could see a gentleman being dragged by a dog," Fire Chief Charles Hood said. "They could see him completely bloodied before they got off of the fire truck.”
WOIA also confirmed the “January 2023” bite case, presumably related to the victim’s daughter, who stated in a comment Friday: “These are the pit bulls that just attacked my Dad in January. Pulled chunks from his arms and legs and left him out of work for weeks.” Thus far, there are two confirmed previous bites by the pair of pit bulls that killed Najeras and critically injured his wife. The city of San Antonio continues to review related 911 and 311 call history from this area.
San Antonio Animal Care Services and San Antonio Police released a statement Friday, based on the preliminary investigation, which clarified the number of victims and previous calls for service in the area. Four people were attacked Friday: The elderly couple, one of the couple’s relatives, and the SAFD captain. All four were transported to University Hospital, where Najeras died. The SA CORE team was also deployed to provide counseling and support to neighborhood residents.
On November 6, 2022, The San Antonio Police Department responded to a dog related call relating to this property. An officer responded on the scene and spoke to the owner of the dogs. The officer told the owner that the dogs must be kept in the yard.
At least two of the dogs have been involved in a pair of confirmed bite cases in the past including one in January of this year and another in September of 2021. The injuries were moderate or mild and the dogs successfully completed the State required quarantine before their owners reclaimed them. Individuals involved declined to file a dangerous dog designation. A dangerous dog designation requires owners to keep the dogs in a secure enclosure, purchase a $100,000 liability insurance policy, special warning signage, be muzzled when outside, be spay/neutered and be subject to annual inspections.
Multiple charges are pending in connection to today’s incident and Animal Care Services is working with SAPD on the investigation.
The City of San Antonio is reviewing any related 911 and 311 call history associated with this area.
The Dogs Were Sterilized
Two days after the vicious multi-victim attack that left one man dead, the wife of the dogs’ owner -- her husband Christian Moreno continues to sit in jail, facing two felony counts in connection to the mauling death of 81-year old Ramon Najeras -- claims she was “traumatized” by the attack and feels remorse. Abilene Moreno also tried to blame the violent behavior of the dogs that she co-owned with Christian as due to recent spay/neuter operations at the request of animal control.
Abilene doesn’t understand that she can also be charged. She’s a co-owner of these dogs that had two bites before the fatal attack on Friday.
The most recent of the two previous biting incidents occurred in January 2023. After that incident, San Antonio Animal Services required the couple to spay and neuter their dogs and keep them in a body harness and tethered in the yard. Abilene claimed the “dogs snapped, they snapped on all of us” after being sterilized. She stated that in the days leading up to the fatal attack, the family had talked about “giving [the dogs] back to ACS.” The dogs are just “too much for us,” she said.
The dogs were neither in body harnesses or tethered in the yard at the time of the fatal attack. Despite two previous bites, Abilene said her dogs “were not aggressive dogs. They weren’t mean,” she told KABB. “We did not raise them to be mean. My husband isn’t this monster that everyone is making him out to be.” Notably, Christian was released from prison for an unrelated offense on February 2. Just weeks before the multi-victim attack that resulted in the death of Najeras.
“We never knew that neutering them would do this to them,” Abilene said, referring to the dogs’ violent behavior, in the extended KAAB interview.
“We only spayed them because ACS told us … I had asked the lady at the desk, ‘What more do I have to do to prevent my dogs from getting out and hurting somebody?’” Abilene said they told her: ‘Spay them, get them neutered. Buy them body harnesses. Make sure your gates stay secured. Make sure there’s no holes in the gate, where they can get out from. And, that was basically it,” she said. But sterilization does not remove “learned” or breed-specific behaviors.
Neutering bully breeds -- between the optimal age of 6-9 months old -- can “reduce the risk of a male dog escaping if it smells that a female is in heat somewhere. Spaying reduces the risk that a female of this class of dogs will attract other dogs when she goes into heat, which she may then attack. Spay/neuter is also crucial to reducing the numbers of these dogs that are being put down in shelters because they are too dangerous or because nobody wants them.” - Alexandra Semyonova
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Law enforcement departments across the United States should release consistent "baseline" information to the media and the public after each fatal dog mauling, including these items.