Animal control officer accused of shooting dog

HOUSTON The former Galena Park animal control officer went in front of the court Wednesday morning, charged with felony animal cruelty. He's accused of picking up a puppy while on the job and shooting it to death.

Juan Hernandez faced a judge in Harris County probable cause court this morning. He's charged with shooting a puppy while on duty as a Galena Park animal control officer in February, a crime that could send him to state jail for two years.

The puppy's owner Mayte Guerrero was devastated.

"I was really shocked," she said. "I didn't have anything to say. I couldn't say anything. It was really like a blank moment."

Guerrero and her mom say the puppy, named Perrito, was in the backyard and escaped through a small hole in the fence. The dog ran across the street to play with neighbors. Prosecutors say another neighbor came out and took the puppy. That's when animal control officer Juan Hernandez showed up in the city truck. The first neighbors pled with him to leave the puppy with them.

Prosecutor Belinda Smith said, "The animal control truck was trying to drive away and they asked him do you have the puppy? He denied having the puppy."

But investigators say Hernandez did have the puppy. They say he shot the little dog with a 22 caliber rifle and threw the body in a dumpster within half an hour of picking it up.

Galena Park Police Department Assistant Chief Rick Bates said, "I really don't at this point have what was in his mindset that day."

Police say Hernandez finally admitted he shot the puppy. They say he has not offered up why he did it.

"No comment at this moment," he told the media outside the courtroom.

The city of Galena Park gave Guerrero a new puppy, a cocker spaniel named Susie. But Guerrero says she still wants to know why Perrito was killed.

"I really don't know why," she said. "I would like to know why, because I really have no idea why."

Hernandez posted his $2,000 bond. He is to have no further contact with animals. His defense attorneys say Hernandez is on administrative duty for the time being. Police say they have taken control of the animal control department and they have hired a new animal control officer.

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