GEORGETOWN, Texas (KXAN) — A 51-year-old Georgetown woman who ran one of her dogs to death in June is accused of running a second dog to near death, according to an arrest affidavit. Esmeralda Escobar was arrested on Monday on a cruelty to animal charge.
A person whose mom lives with Escobar called police on July 18 concerned that Escobar had taken a 10-year-old Border Collie named Oliver on a run during the heat of the day. When officers arrived at the home to check on Oliver, they found him unable to move and “whimpering as if he were in distress and pain,” according to the affidavit.
The officer asked Escobar if she was planning on getting the dog treatment and she replied, “no.”
Escobar tells KXAN Oliver was okay and she did plan on getting him checked out.
Police say prior to July’s incident, Escobar ran her 3-year-old Australian Shepherd, Honey, to death in the heat of the day on June 26. Escobar says they were running in the park when her dog had a heat stroke.
When an officer asked why she would take the dog running in the heat of the day when three weeks ago it killed her Australian Shepherd, she said, “she did not want to leave him alone.”
Police say Escobar ended up taking Oliver to the veterinarian to be treated for heat exposure. She claims her dogs are running dogs, and are used to this heat. She says both cases were accidents.
Dr. Joni O’Hair, associate veterinarian with Zoot Pet Hospital and Luxury Boarding, says pet owners shouldn’t take their dogs running in this kind of heat.
“They sweat from the palms of their feet, and so when that is constantly touching hot pavement, they really can’t control their heat dissipation,” said Dr. O’Hair.
She says if you have to run with your pets, do it when it’s cooler, in the morning or evening.
Animal cruelty charges
“Reckless” and “torture” are two words that can have a severe impact in an animal cruelty case in Texas.
In civil cases, a judge can simply take away a person’s animals or order them to pay fines. However, a criminal conviction could mean fines and/or jail time.
In 2001, animal cruelty became a felony in Texas, punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to two years in jail. The legal move was called “Loco’s Law,” named for puppy whose eyes were intentionally gouged out.
Today, animal cruelty convictions can be classified as either a felony or misdemeanor.
In 2007, state lawmakers divided the term “animal cruelty” into two types: livestock and non-livestock. As a result, Escobar’s case falls under the latter. Another point in her case is possibly because of that legislative change, adding “water” to the list of things an owner must not deny the animal.
Additionally, “torture” is now defined as “any act that causes unjustifiable pain or suffering.” The law also now lowers the minimum required mental state to “recklessly,” instead of just “intentionally” and “knowingly.”
Interestingly, if a child is the person found to have committed such an act, the juvenile court could order the child to go through psychological counseling – instead of jail time.