When neighborhood cats were found dead on a resident’s back porch on the outskirts of Kempner, many pointed their fingers at the owners of five pit bulls.
The dogs’ owners say it wasn’t their dogs.
However with no animal control in the area, several neighbors said they are concerned about the potential for danger to the community.
The city of Kempner does not have any ordinances pertaining to pet care or management, according to Stacy Roberts, Kempner city secretary.
Kempner has never employed an animal control officer, Roberts said, and there are currently no plans to.
Roberts said complaints pertaining to animal control within the city limits of Kempner should be directed to the Lampasas County Sheriff’s Office.
The animal control position in Lampasas County was vacated when the previous animal control officer retired in February, according to Lampasas Sheriff Jesus “Jess” G. Ramos.
Ramos said the county plans to fill the position with a current detention officer who has served as an animal control officer in another city, but first she will need to train her replacement for her current duties.
After filing several reports with both city police and county deputies, some neighbors in the 200 block of Country Road 4703 have aired their complaints against the dogs belonging to Joseph Wyatt and Krissanna Grant on a neighborhood watch app called Kempner Next Door — and others have stuck up for the peaceful nature of the pets.
But after the cats turned up dead April 1, the conversation took a vicious turn with ranting and name-calling.
Joseph Daigle said the argument over the welfare of Wyatt and Grant’s pit bulls has been ongoing since he moved next door to them in August.
“They have five pit bulls in an area about 200 square feet,” Daigle said. He said he has not seen them walking the dogs.
“They don’t clean up the feces, I can smell it from my back yard,” Daigle said. “It is a health and welfare issue, is what it is. For the dogs, them and all their neighbors.”
Daigle also claimed his neighbors don’t have trash service regularly pick up their garbage, and when their dogs get loose, they drag it across his lawn.
Daigle said he has taken his concerns to the city of Kempner and the Lampasas Sheriff, launching about five complaints, all to no avail.
Ramos said, “They do have a lot of debris they need to clean up or they will receive a citation for that. But our deputies have gone by the house several times and the dogs appear to be healthy.”
Dog owners respond
Daigle’s complaints have been so regular, Grant said, they have reached the level of harassment.
Wyatt, said all of his dogs are fed, well taken care of and taken to the vet.
“My dog didn’t kill anything,” Wyatt said. “They have been harassing me about my dogs, but they have no proof my dogs have killed anything or the police would have taken action.”
Although neighbors and law enforcement have all said Wyatt and Grant’s dogs have gotten out multiple times, Wyatt has received only one citation for “dog at large” when his dog Scar, a chocolate colored pit bull with white markings on it’s chest and neck, escaped March 29.
Gabriela Pena, the Kempner police officer who issued the citation, said Scar was not aggressive at that time.
“There wasn’t too much of a struggle getting him,” Pena said. “He was very friendly.”
On April 1 — the day the cats were found dead — Wyatt said, Scar escaped about 10:23 a.m., along with Nola, a smaller, light-colored female pit bull belonging to Grant.
They were found and brought home about 11:30 a.m., he said.
Grant said she found both dogs in the backyard of a neighbor who said the dogs hadn’t caused him any trouble.
However, some neighbors claim during the hour the dogs were missing, they killed the two cats.
Khris Hurley said she left her home about 8 a.m., and came home to the 200 block of County Road 4703 about 1 p.m. to find her dogs in a frenzy: her dining-room table had been pushed away from the bay window, and one of her otherwise house-trained dogs had an accident on the bedroom floor.
“I knew right away something was wrong,” Hurley said. “At first I thought someone might have broken in, but then I found the two cats on the back porch, and it was obvious they had been mauled — their hair was matted and there was blood all over the wall.”
Hurley said her yard is protected on one side and across the front by a 9-foot privacy fence, the other side is divided from neighbor Terry Hamilton’s yard by an 8-foot chain-link fence; a heavily wooded area with a farm fence and barbed wire lines the back.
“I saw two dogs in her back yard,” said Hamilton, owner of one of the dead cats. “But Khris wasn’t home, and she doesn’t leave her dogs out when she isn’t home.”
But later, Grant and Wyatt both denied that it was their dogs that were in Hurley and Hamilton’s yards.
Although Scar and Nola fit the descriptions of the dogs seen in Hamilton’s yard, Grant said when she found her dogs there were no scratches on them, and they had no blood in their fur — only mud on their paws.
Ramos said because no one witnessed the dogs killing the two cats it is a civil issue and no criminal charges or citations will be pursued.
“It would be a different ball game if a child was attacked,” Ramos said. “Then the dog would become a vicious dog according to the penal code.”
Meanwhile, the sheriff’s deputies will keep an eye out in case the dogs escape and the owners can be issued a citation again for their dogs being “at large,” he said.
Looking ahead, Hurley said she is concerned for the neighborhood if nothing changes.
“What if it was my granddaughter in the backyard when she was visiting me?” Hurley asked. “She is 3 years old and she wouldn’t have a chance against those dogs.”
Grant said the dogs continue to escape from their yard, in spite of a 7-foot fence.
“They get out non-stop,” Grant said. “I don’t know how they’re doing it. There is a hole underneath my back porch deck — I’m assuming that’s where they got out.”
Grant said while she believes her dogs are gentle, she recognizes it’s her responsibility to make sure the dogs can’t escape.