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Animal owner: Livestock watched, cared for, not neglected

By BY DIANNA WRAY
Jan. 22, 2011 at 2:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 21, 2011 at 7:22 p.m.


WHO TO CALLHow to report suspected animal abuse:

Victoria Animal Control at 361-578-3564

Victoria County Sheriff's Department at 361-575-0651

The livestock that have lived in a pasture on North Main Street have been a point of concern for weeks, but now have been moved.

For the past few weeks, a colt, a horse and seven cows pastured on a small plot of land on North Main Street since last summer are being neglected, neighbors said.

Victoria resident Luis Rodriguez, the owner of the animals, said it's not so.

The five-acre fenced pasture is wedged between Spring Creek Self Storage and Northside Ranch, Pet and Garden Center.

After being placed on the property over the summer, the animals attracted attention from customers and employees from the neighboring feed store.

The animals didn't have enough grass to graze on or enough feed, and got skinnier and increasingly malnourished looking as the months wore on, Northside employee Katy Kutchka said.

Northside employees have received daily calls about the animals, Kutchka said.

"Everyone has been so upset. Customers have been buying bags of feed and just throwing it over the fence for them, trying to help," Kutchka said.

While the cows might be described as skinny and scruffy looking, the colt has hobbled around the pasture with its back right leg cut and swollen and is the main point of concern.

Representatives from the Victoria Animal Control and the Victoria County Sheriff's Office have been to the pasture twice. Officers from the Victoria Police Department have also been to the pasture.

Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said they went out to the pasture two weeks ago, but were assured by Rodriguez that he intended to get treatment for the colt.

"We've got to prove there has been an intent of negligence. If the person explains it to us and says they will rectify the situation, then we've got to give them the benefit of the doubt," O'Connor said.

However, if the animals continue to remain in this state, O'Connor said Rodriguez will face two outcomes: the animals will have to be moved by the owner to a better location or the sheriff's office will take the animals.

If they still aren't being cared for, O'Connor said they would pick up the animals and get them to someone who will care for them.

Rodriguez disputes the claims of abuse.

"Yes, I could take better care of them. There's always more that could be done, but I don't think they're abused in any way," Rodriguez said Friday.

Rodriguez, who works in construction, said he leased the land for the animals to graze on about six months ago because it was easier to keep an eye on them in town.

Northside employee Becky Urban, who has worked in ranching for years, said the needs for pasturing cows in this part of the country are specific.

Because of the annual rainfall, Urban said, each cow needs seven to 10 acres of grass-covered grazing land to maintain their health.

"There isn't any grass out there. There's nothing left for them to eat," Urban said.

Cindy Schneider, a longtime animal rights advocate, said the animals had food and water when she went to look at them Thursday, but she is concerned, nevertheless.

"If they're actually neglecting the animals, something should be done because it is cruelty and they can't do this," Schneider said.

Despite the complaints, Rodriguez said someone comes by to check on and feed the animals once a day.

Rodriguez said he was aware of the colt's condition and had been treating the animal himself when the sheriff's office deputy came to the pasture the first time.

After that visit, Rodriguez took the animal to a veterinarian, though he declined to say which doctor treated the colt.

Now, after a second visit from the sheriff's office, Rodriguez has moved the horses to another pasture. He said he plans to take the colt to the veterinarian again, because of all the complaints.

He may move some of the cattle from the property, but plans to keep some of them there, since he is leasing the land.

He said the animals weren't abused.

"I'm doing all of this as a precaution, but I wish they would have come and talked to me before making me look like a bad guy in front of the community," Rodriguez said.

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