Almost two weeks after being told by the Killeen municipal court that she was required to pay fines due to missing the deadline to spay her adopted dog, Harker Heights resident Cristina Chapa has successfully filed a motion for a new trial. The new trial has been set for Thursday at 1:30 p.m.
“I am so thankful for the overwhelming amount of support and, through that support, I was referred to an attorney who stepped up to help me,” Chapa said. “Mr. Michael Loh, who is also an animal lover, with Daniel Stark law firm, here in town. He is an amazing, caring guy who has gone above and beyond to help me.”
On Aug. 6, she appeared before the court in an effort to explain that she had unknowingly adopted a pregnant dog from the Killeen Animal Shelter but had worked with the shelter and her veterinarian to allow the dog to have and wean her puppies before getting her spayed.
Chapa hoped — after presenting written evidence and verbal testimony to the court and explaining that she had been in constant contact with the shelter both before and after the deadline and showing proof that the spay had been performed within a reasonable amount of time after the puppies were weaned — the charges against her would be dropped. Instead, she was fined in excess of $300.
The shelter now says an extended deadline was given.
“The (Killeen Animal Shelter) does have documentation on the pregnancy that was received prior to the deadline,” Killeen Police Department spokeswoman Ofelia Miramontez said.
All media inquiries about the shelter must be made through the police department.
“The person in this case received an extension,” Miramontez said.
According to responses obtained from shelter staff, when staff learn that a pregnant animal has been adopted, Killeen Animal Services will request that the animal be returned to the shelter.
If the owner refuses to return the animal, the shelter requires that a letter from a veterinarian be provided, listing the reason why the animal could not be spayed.
“There is obviously a protocol, as we have learned, regarding information and options for the owner, that is required to be provided at the time the shelter is informed the animal is pregnant,” Chapa said. “That protocol was not followed here.
“I consistently kept in contact with the shelter, calling them along the way with updated information about the pregnancy and delivery,” she said. “I was never asked to do that after the initial call I made to inform them of her pregnancy. I called and updated them on my own accord.
“During that initial call, I was asked to have my vet clinic send over the report of her pregnancy, which I did,” she added. “The additional times I made calls to the shelter, the information I provided was acknowledged and I was assured ChaCha’s file would be notated.
“The first call I received with any information was from the shelter officer on June 21, when the puppies were 6 weeks old and running around my living room. It was at that point that he told me the shelter had given me a break and that it was my choice not to terminate the pups,” Chapa said. “I was offended by that, because I had not only taken a pregnant animal off their hands, but also loved and cared for all of them and had already placed them all in loving homes with personal friends of mine.
“I called my vet the next day and he wrote a detailed letter explaining she would be spayed and given her rabies shot as soon as the puppies were weaned. It was sent to the shelter within a few days.”