A Santa Fe man is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Magistrate Court on charges related to a May incident in which his unleashed pit bull attacked and severely injured a Shih Tzu that later had to be euthanized at a veterinary clinic.
Online court records show Charles Garcia faces charges of violating laws related to keeping vicious animals, dogs running at large, restraint of an animal, rabies vaccination and animal license requirements.
A Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office report said Garcia’s pit bull attacked the Shih Tzu as the small dog was being walked by its owners on the evening of May 2 on a trail behind Panther Peak Road, which is in the Rancho Viejo area south of Santa Fe.
One of the small dog’s owners said the pit bull’s owner later came to her house and got into a verbal altercation about the incident. After the owner of the pit bull left, she called 911 to report the episode, the deputy’s report said.
The Shih Tzu was then rushed to a veterinary clinic on Rodeo Road and Sawmill Road, according to the report. The Shih Tzu’s owner told the deputy that her pet was “bleeding excessively from the stomach and the hind quarters.”
According to the report, an unidentified friend of the pit bull’s owner arrived at the clinic, left a credit card to pay for the Shih Tzu’s treatment and apologized to its owner.
When a sheriff’s deputy contacted Garcia by telephone, Garcia admitted his dog attacked “a small dog,” the report said.
On May 13, a deputy met with Garcia at his residence on Panther Peak Road, where the deputy saw a brown and white pit bull. The deputy suggested to Garcia that he build a taller barrier around a 30-foot by 25-foot fenced area in the backyard, the report said. The existing fence was about 4 feet high, and Garcia said he would need approval from his homeowner’s association to build a taller barrier, the report stated.
The deputy also suggested keeping the dog leashed whenever it was in the yard, but Garcia said he had been cited in the past for having his dog leashed, the report said. The deputy wrote that he told Garcia tying up the dog was not illegal as long as it had access to food.
The deputy then told Garcia that if he felt “like he was unable to restrain his dog on his property, that he could surrender his dog at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.” Garcia said he would not do so and told the deputy “he has had incidents in the past, and that he feels like he is being harassed.”
On May 16, the sheriff’s deputy filed a criminal complaint in Magistrate Court regarding the “vicious animal attack.”