LAMPASAS — On March 16, 4-year-old Cujo, a Catahoula mix, ran around in the neighborhood with Missy, his 14-year-old dog-sister.
The dogs, both pets of Hillcrest Street resident Catherine Carnes, had gotten out of her house through a crack in the window, she said. Cujo and Missy ended up near Veto “Robert” Resa’s yard. Shots were fired. Cujo died.
Now, the circumstances surrounding Cujo’s death sparked a debate in Lampasas.
During the public comment portion of a Lampasas City Council meeting last week, Carnes spoke to council members about seeking justice on what she views as a shoddy investigation done by the Lampasas Police Department.
Resa, who Lampasas Police Chief Tim Angermann said works as a firefighter and possibly a paramedic for the city of Burnet, also gave a statement at the meeting before Carnes spoke.
Since moving to Brown Street in 2011, Resa said he has seen multiple “stabbing victims” on his porch and an “individual break into a vehicle” in the past year and a half. Due to these incidents, he carries a concealed handgun at all times while off duty, he said.
On March 16, two dogs approached his home; one was untagged and looked “pit bull” in nature, Resa said.
“I made one attempt to shoo the dog; the dog made no response and on the second attempt the dog became aggressive and attacked me at that time,” he said.
Resa decided to use his gun and shot the dog, mortally wounding him.
Cujo then dragged himself the short distance home. Carnes found him on the porch, bleeding profusely, she said. The family put the dog in the car to take him to the pet hospital, but he died en route while lying in Carnes’ 14-year-old son’s arms.
Carnes said her dogs have always been affectionate, non-aggressive, neighborhood dogs with no history of incidents. Cujo was one of the first dogs adopted from the local animal shelter when it opened a few years ago, she said.
“After giving sufficient evidence to the police, they have ignored it and decided to protect this man. I’ve found out this man is a habitual dog killer,” Carnes said at the meeting, speculating the police protected him because he is a firefighter.
Members of Resa’s family and several neighbors signed a petition requesting Resa be charged with animal cruelty and his concealed handgun license revoked because of his history of violence with dogs, she said.
As of Friday, the petition had about 160 signatures.
“He said he shot my dog as he was lunging at him, but the shots that are all in my dog are in the sides and the back going toward the head ... retreating shots,” she said at the meeting.
Carnes is spending $1,000 to have forensics performed on Cujo’s body at a facility in Oklahoma. She said she plans to further pursue the case with the police department and in civil court. She hired an animal rights lawyer from Houston, she said.
Carnes said police chose to ignore several neighbors’ accounts of the incident and blood spatter patterns and decided to accept late testimony from Resa’s ex-girlfriend.
Angermann said according to all evidence and statements gathered by the department, Resa was justified in his actions and the case was closed.
“We’re not taking sides because he’s a public safety person,” he said.