Animals stolen from CLASS mysteriously reappear


By Richard Zowie

Times Guardian Staff Writer


It sounds like a strange set of plot twists out of a prime time crime drama.

Someone cut open two kennels at the Canyon Lake Animal Shelter late June 10, stealing three dogs.

On June 11 in the morning, the owner of the two dogs reported that the dogs had been left on his property. That same day, his girlfriend's mother discovered someone had left the other dog on her property

The three dogs were returned to the clinic on June 11 and are now in the shelter's custody pending a criminal investigation.

Randy Archer, the shelter's kennel supervisor, said that around 11 p.m. on June 10 the shelter's neighbors heard a commotion at the shelter. The next morning, when he arrived at the shelter, he discovered two places where the kennel gate's chain-link fence had been cut open with wire cutters. Gone from one place were two dogs, one a female Chow and Corgi mix and the other a black mixed breed with white feet.

Gone from the other kennel was a purebred Husky with China blue eyes (its kennel mate, a Redbone hound, was left behind).

Left at the scene were four items: a pair of wire cutters, a package of lunch meat, a cigarette lighter and a splatter of blood.

Archer speculated that the lunchmeat was used to entice the dogs close enough to the opening in the fence to pull them out. "The blood] had to be human blood," he said.

Comal County Deputy Richard Smith, who investigated the incident, said the blood could've come from one of the injured dogs. Either way, it's likely they'll never know: the area was subsequently hosed down, making it impossible to use a blood recovery kit or to try to recover fingerprints from the food package or the lighter. The wire cutters had foam rubber handles, making fingerprint recovery unlikely, said Archer.

The two dogs taken from the first kennel belong to Anthony Gonzales, a Canyon Lake resident. They had been impounded from his residence the day before due to getting outside his fence.

"I was going to get paid [June 11] and get them out since they're my guard dogs," said Gonzales, who added that the animals would be placed on 10-foot chains for the time being. "I called the sheriff's dispatch and reported they were back in the yard and asked if they wanted to send somebody to come get them since I didn't know what to do."

Gonzales said he was also intent on having the animals removed from his property since he was told that since they had been in the custody of the shelter they were considered stolen property.

He said he doesn't know who left the animals on his property but speculated it could've been a former neighbor with whom he'd had problems. "[My neighbor] just sold his property and was telling me he'd get me in some trouble," Gonzales recalled.

Smith said that the person who was selling the property didn't live there and hadn't been living there for a long time, and that it was a summer home. There had been a For Sale sign and it had just been sold.

"I'm not aware of any neighbor problems," Smith said. "It's possible Gonzales was referring to another neighbor."

Gonzales, who returned the dogs to the animal shelter, said he's willing to cooperate with the police in the investigation.

"I have nothing to hide," he said.

Late in the morning on June 11, the Husky was returned to the shelter by a Startzville woman who said she found it on her property and wished to adopt it.

While both Gonzales and his girlfriend (who declined to identify herself) told Smith they had nothing to do with the animals' abduction, they both declined to give him written statements. This isn't unusual, the deputy pointed out, saying it occurs about 40 percent of the time and usually happens due to a variety of reasons.

While Archer suspects the three animals are all taken by the same perpetrators, Smith said the investigation is still ongoing.

"Based on what I've learned, I'm not convinced the dogs' owners took them," Smith said. "But I'm not saying they didn't. They gave me a credible story, and they're not the only place I'm looking."

Archer said the shelter had a break-in similar to this four years ago when Labrador puppies were taken. Two were found in San Antonio and were returned.

"I just hope we find the people who took them," he said. "I don't know why they'd want to do that in the first place. If they steal from the county, they're liable for theft from the county, not from just us."

He also hoped somebody could donate funds or resources to the clinic so they could build a fence to prevent problems like this from occurring again.

"This story's getting really twisted," he said.

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