Westhoff pet owner upset over social media shaming by local pet rescue

WESTHOFF, Texas – What began as a shopping trip for dog leashes, ended in public shaming on social media. 

“Where are our rights?” Torres said. “You gotta have some rights.  Do you know?  You can’t videotape or ‘Can I videotape?’ Do you know what I’m saying?  Just ask .”

Upon checkout, the clerk made note of the numerous collars and leashes Diane Torres was purchasing and offered to build her a new fence so the Westhoff resident wouldn’t need to keep the animals tethered.

“I had to tie them up,” Torres said. “People are like, ‘Oh they tie them up in chains.’ Well, I don’t have a choice.”

After the clerk surveyed her property for fence building, the clerk notified a local pet rescue organization concerned about what she described as poor conditions for the dogs. 

That group contacted Torres, which led to the pet rescue feeding her dogs and taking two for adoption purposes. Kaitlyn Ingram was one of the rescue volunteers that came out to feed Torres’ pets. 

“And when we went out there it was it was pretty bad their water bowls are literal mud water,” Ingram said. “Food, they don’t have any food they are all skin and bones.  One has a really bad eye one has a malformity in his leg.  I mean, it was… it was a pretty horrific scene.”

“The sheriff’s department was called on this situation and it was told to us that they went out and checked on everything,” Ingram said. “And they said because the dogs have food and water that it’s not a concern, they are not they are not breaking any laws.”

While the pet rescue volunteers were there they took to Facebook live with video of the pets. 

Torres said she was upset that the help turned into public shaming and fundraising for the pet rescue on social media. 

“Well the shelter is showing the video on their Facebook page videotaping my house my dogs actually not my house but my dogs that’s what upset me,” Torres said. 

Keeping the dogs seemed better than abandoning them to wandering the highway and eventually being run over, said Torres. 

“I think a lot of people have the idea of If I pick a dog up on the street off the street, ‘I’m saving it,'” Ingram said. “And if you’re not getting vet work done, if you’re not spaying and neutering these animals and you’re just letting them all procreate on your property.”

“My daughter had her dumb dog from Cuero come over here,” Torres said.  “I told her to tie him up, ‘Tie him up,'” Torres said.  “‘Oh, now the momma is out there… yeah, let them run around and momma wasn’t fixed.  So there you go.”

“Then you have people like this that have nine dogs on their property who all look starved,” Ingram said. “I mean and they are living on chains and don’t have adequate housing for them.”   

Torres works at a $13 an hour rate at the McDonald’s in Cuero and can hardly afford to feed herself and her son. The expenses tied to pet ownership are too much for the single mom to handle. 

” Just help me don’t hurt me,” Torres said. “Help me.”

We spoke with DeWitt County Sheriff Carl Bowen who says there is no limit on the number of pets per household where Diane lives. In order for animal neglect to reach the criminal level, Bowen said intent has to be shown.  The animal cruelty bill passed by state legislators earlier this year would have made tethering your pet with heavy chains a crime but the Safe Outdoors Dogs Act was instead vetoed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott over the summer.

Since then the bill has been re-introduced to the third special session and supporters await the governor’s signature. If made into law, the Safe Outdoors Dogs Act would go into effect in January.