A San Antonio couple used meat to train their pit bulls to be aggressive prior to the fatal mauling of 81-year-old Ramon Najera, who died protecting his 74-year-old wife from a devastating dog attack.
He was killed by three attacking dogs that broke free from their owners’ yard. According to The Daily Mail, the deadly dog attack occurred the afternoon of Feb. 26 along the 2800 block of Depla Street on the city’s west side, where Najera and his wife were visiting friends.
Horrific and Traumatic Dog Attack
Witnesses and officials say when the couple got out of the car, they were accosted by two American Staffordshire Terriers. When the San Antonio Fire Department arrived on the scene, the dogs were still “actively attacking the couple.” Firefighters described the scene as “horrific” as Najera was being dragged by the animals as emergency services tried to intervene.
The elderly man was completely covered in blood even before firefighters could exit their truck, officials said. The firefighters were forced to use their pickaxes to get the dogs to release their grip. An EMS captain was bitten on the leg during the attempted rescue. Animal Care Services officials said the dogs involved in the accident would be put down. A third dog that was present but not involved in the attack was also put down.
The city’s Fire Chief Charles Hood said his staff members were most likely also traumatized by the gruesome scene, which he said, “was not normal for us.” He described his staff’s actions in fighting the pit bulls with pipes and pickaxes as “heroic.” Najera died from his injuries while his wife was critically injured.
Ongoing Incident Investigation
Officials also said that the dogs had a history of attacking two others in the neighborhood. Fresh evidence, they said, also points to the dog owners training their dogs to attack and be vicious. Christian Alexander Moreno was arrested and charged with criminal negligence-dangerous dog attack resulting in death and injury to the elderly victim and remains in jail.
His wife, Abilene Schneider, 31, is now facing the same charges. Investigators told news media that the pit bulls made an easy escape from their yard through a hole in the fence. According to an arrest report, a witness video showed that the dogs were not wearing collars or harnesses, which is a requirement under local laws. Moreno had told investigators that he had complied with the guidelines.
Police said they had received tips that Moreno and Schneider have been breeding the dogs and training them to be aggressive by giving them meat. Schneider claimed her husband was not responsible for the attack after the incident. In addition to the dog owners, their close relative has been arrested on a retaliation charge after a neighbor reported receiving a death threat from them after talking to reporters. Two neighbors told police they were retaliated against by Destiny Marie Cardona, 26, after they spoke publicly about the dog attack.
Protecting Victims’ Rights
Najera’s grandchildren and his wife, Janie, shared a tribute to their loved one and created a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral costs for Najera and medical costs for his wife. Najera was “a San Antonio native, a US Air Force veteran and an adventurous, outgoing and loving family man,” his family wrote.
In this particular case, the dog owners are facing criminal negligence charges in light of evidence and statements from neighbors that the couple that owned the dogs bred them to be aggressive and that there have been other instances when the dogs have attacked neighbors unprovoked. Also, according to reports, the dog owners also did not mend a hole in the fence, which allowed the dogs to escape and leave their property fairly easily.
American Staffordshire Terrier Breed
The American Staffordshire Terrier breed, also known as Amstaffs, falls under the category of pit bull terriers. The behavior of a dog, regardless of breed, is almost always a result of its owners’ behavior. That is certainly the case here, where investigators say the violence shown by the dogs was a result of training. However, it can also be noted that pit bulls and variations of the breed are statistically responsible for the majority of dog attacks in the United States.
What Compensation Can Victims Seek After a Dog Attack?
In such cases, where negligence or wrongdoing may have been factors, dog owners, in addition to criminal charges and penalties can also be held financially responsible for the injuries, damages, and losses caused by their pets. Injured victims can seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, cost of hospitalization, rehabilitation, cosmetic surgery, scarring and disfigurement, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Families that have lost loved ones as a result of dog owners’ negligence may be able to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for medical expenses, funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering, and loss of love, care, and companionship.
Victims would also be well advised to contact an experienced dog bite lawyer who will stay on top of the official investigation and make sure their legal rights and best interests are protected every step of the way. Often, dog attacks are also covered under the dog owner’s homeowner’s insurance policy. A knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can analyze the situation and explore every possible avenue to maximize compensation for injured victims and their families.