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Why are dozens of Quail Creek pets dead, missing?

May 25, 2010 at 12:25 a.m.
Updated May 26, 2010 at 12:26 a.m.


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To submit questions, e-mail watchdog@vicad.com, post them to the "Watchdog" blog or call Advocate Public Service Editor Gabe Semenza at 361-580-6519. No topic is off-limits.

Dozens of pets in the Quail Creek subdivision have turned up dead or missing, residents say.

Neighbors here are worried someone is poisoning the animals - or worse.

The problem became so widespread local politicians and law enforcement became involved.

Now, neighbors wonder what to do if the pet deaths and disappearances continue.

'SOMETHING'S GOING ON'

About 20 Quail Creek neighbors stood outside a Golden Eye Loop trailer home on Friday night. The crowd gathered to discuss residents of the trailer home next door.

Tension between the neighborhood at large and David and Cynthia Paradez seems to only worsen. That's partly because the Paredezes openly trap stray neighborhood pets that roam onto their property.

Members of the crowd pointed to the large, rusted metal cage, which the Paredezes on this day positioned near their trailer.

While no neighbor accused the Paredezes of killing or disposing of animals - they have no concrete proof, they admit - they can't help but wonder about the family's action toward pets.

While the Paredezes trap neighborhood pets, dozens of others went missing or were found dead. Kittens were found in a yard with blood dripping from their eyes; other cats were found stabbed to death with rebar, neighbors said.

Traci Brown found three of her kenneled dogs dead and a pool of antifreeze nearby, she said. Shortly thereafter, her two puppies went missing, she said.

"I think someone poisoned my dogs and did something with my puppies," Brown said.

Jim Clark's pet also became mysteriously ill. The Quail Creek resident took the dog to Dr. John Beck, a Victoria veterinarian. Beck saved the dog.

"In general scientific terms, all signs pointed to poisoning," Beck said. "Somebody seems to be killing these animals. If any of the pets there die unexpectedly, people should request an autopsy. We can test for things."

Because autopsies weren't performed on the pets that already died, Beck can't rule out neighborhood disease as a cause of the mass deaths.

"It's unlikely, but it's possible," he said. "Something's going on."

'WE'VE GOT A PROBLEM OUT HERE'

Victoria County Commissioner Gary Burns mingled with the crowd on Friday.

His phone in recent weeks has been ringing nonstop and oftentimes until late at night, he said. Pet owner after pet owner called him to express sorrow or concern.

"Being an animal lover, it really concerns me. It scares me," Burns said. "We've got a problem out here."

Burns left the crowd and walked 25 feet to the Paredez home. Inside, the husband and wife fumed about the nearby crowd. Minutes before, they called authorities to accuse neighbors of trespassing.

Burns sat at the family's dining room table and asked for its version of the story.

The Paredezes freely admitted that they trap stray animals but repeatedly denied killing, poisoning or dumping pets. They said they trapped pets and then turned them over to Victoria animal control officers.

They also said they are tired of loose pets digging in their trash, defecating in their yard and harassing them.

"I came home one day and three cats were climbing on me," Cynthia Paredez said. "They were hungry, thin. I have a problem with that. People should control their pets, feed them. If you can afford beer and wine, you can afford dog food."

David Paredez said neighborhood pets are so thirsty they drink droplets from his outdoor air conditioning condenser.

"I'm getting more traps," the husband said. "We're getting rid of all the stray animals in the neighborhood. Dogs and cats are running loose. We do have a way of solving this: Take care of your animals - give them shots, feed them. The solution lies with each of the people complaining. We'll get rid of the traps as soon as you take care of your pets."

Burns tried to persuade both groups to find a solution to the growing tension.

"I wish we could settle it," Burns told the Paredezes. "I don't know what to do. This scares me because I'm afraid it's going to escalate."

'IT'S LIKE TAKING OUR FAMILY'

Bain Cate, director of Victoria's animal control department, failed to reply to a request for information regarding his office's visits to Quail Creek.

How many times has animal control been called to the neighborhood? What were the reasons for those trips? Did his office find any evidence of poisoning? Cate failed to say.

Terry Simons, chief deputy for the Victoria County Sheriff's Office, said the Paredezes can legally trap any animal that comes into their yard. Law enforcement sees no reason to charge the family with a crime, he said.

"At this point, we have three different report calls about people who reported their suspicions," Simons said. "At this point, we don't have any evidence that establishes their case. Officers have observed a humane trap."

The sheriff's office will continue to monitor reports, Simons said.

Until the cause of animal deaths is found, Quail Creek residents will pay closer attention to their pets, they say. For years, before the animals disappeared, neighbors said pets roamed freely here and residents enjoyed a communal approach to animal care.

"Cats ran around the neighborhood, lived under porches and steps and people fed them. We loved it," said Mike Hazouri, a Quail Creek resident. "The last few months, everything's gotten out of hand big time. I live by myself and pets are my family. For a lot of us, it's like taking our family."

Gabe Semenza is the Public Service Editor for the Advocate. Comment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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