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Pets fall victim to tight budgets

The threat of the COVID-19 coronavirus has disrupted the lives for many in the community as they follow local stay-at-home orders to help mitigate the spread of the virus.

One fallout of that strain has been felt as some pet owners, looking to reduce finances, have reached out about surrendering their animals at the Kingsville-Kleberg Animal Control and Care Center

"We've had people who have come here wanting to donate their dogs, or just surrender their dogs," Health Department Director Emilio Garcia said. "They just can't take care of them."

The shelter currently has 32 dog kennels, including 10 outside, and 28 cat kennels used to house the animals. While intake has been low since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Garcia said they have tried to mitigate too many animals coming in through surrender or donation to ensure the shelter does not reach full capacity.

"We've been putting them on a waiting list," he said. "They still have an obligation to those animals, because they are the owners, to feed them and keep them healthy."

When a cat or dog is picked up or surrendered to the animal shelter, Garcia said they are held for at least 72 hours. After that time, the animal can then be put up for adoption or, at the shelter's discretion, euthanized.

While overcrowding is always a concern, Garcia said the most common reason for euthanasia is when the animal is too sick or injured.

"Unfortunately, if we can't treat the animal, then we will have to put the animal down," he said. "Especially if it's parvo or distemper. You don't want to bring those diseases into our facility to spread to the general population who are healthy."

To help facilitate pet adoptions and reach out to rescue groups, Garcia said the animal shelter works closely with local organizations such as the Kingsville Animal Advocates.

"Those groups help us keep our numbers low," he said.

Sara Hamblin, a volunteer with Kingsville Animal Advocates, said that the COVID-19 pandemic has created travel issues for many animal rescues as they comply with stay-at-home orders and state

border and travel restrictions."We had one dog who was supposed to go to Canada, but (the border is) closed off and the rescue group couldn't take him," she said. "But everybody is still doing their best to try and find (these animals) a home."

"We have over 100 rescue groups that pull (dogs and cats) from our facility," Garcia said. "And they transport them all over the United States, but that is harder to do right now."

Hamblin said the travel restrictions have also led extended stays with foster owners while the organization works with rescue groups to transport the animals.

"But there are more people available to foster dogs since everybody is home right now," she said.

Last week, the Kingsville-Kleberg Health Department announced because of COVID-19, the shelter would be closed to the public until further notice. Garcia said while the closure prohibits walk-ins, adoptions and rescues can still be made by appointment.

"We're still here, and we're still answering phone calls," he said. "And if you call and make an appointment, we will open the doors for you."

Garcia also recommended visiting the animal shelter's Facebook page, which features photos and information on the dogs and cats available for adoption or rescue.

"This is all to minimize the traffic here," he said.

For people looking to adopt a dog or cat, Garcia said it was important for them to consider "the appropriate animal for them."

"Because they are going to have to care for it for the rest of the animal's life," he said. "So take your time, look around and really think before you jump into it. It's a big responsibility."

The fees for adoption are $25 for dogs and $20 for cats, along with a $20 refundable vaccination deposit fee that can be reimbursed with proof of vaccination within 10 days of adoption.

As per state law, any animal adopted from an animal shelter must be spayed or neutered. If the animal has not been sterilized within 30 days of adoption, the owner will receive a citation.

The Kingsville-Kleberg Health Department Animal Control and Care Center is located at 3415 N. FM 1355 in Kingsville. Its hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 8-11:30 a.m. and 1-4:30 p.m., Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. 1:30 p.m.

Because of COVID-19 concerns, the shelter is closed to the public outside of scheduled appointments. To make an appointment, call (361) 592-3324.

For more information on adoptions, visit cityofkingsville.com/departments/health-and-social-services/animal-shelter/or the shelter's Facebook page at "Kingsville Kleberg Health Department Animal Control & Care Center."


Dispute fatal for Alabama man

An Alabama man is being charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping charges after allegedly shooting another man in the head in front of the Bishop Dollar General on April 1.

Bishop Police Department officials said Jeremy Craig Rocha, 27, was taken into custody after allegedly shooting and killing Benjamin Ronald Howell, 41, outside of the Dollar General.

Howell, along with his girlfriend and her child, traveled with Rocha from Alabama to Bishop to visit family.

Rocha, officials said, has ties to Corpus Christi.

At about 12:20 p.m. on April 1, officials said they received multiple calls from residents reporting a shooting at the Dollar General.

Howell was found dead, as witnesses to the shooting provided descriptions of Rocha and where he traveled after the shooting.

Police found Rocha in a residence on Farm-to-Market 70 a short time later.

Officials said a standoff took place at the residence until Rocha surrendered and was taken into custody without incident.

Two other men also were in the residence and were detained, but were later released officials said.

Officials said the two men inside the residence, the woman and child, Rocha and Howell all were staying at the residence.

A search warrant of the residence was obtained by police and later executed.

Officials said they found the alleged murder weapon, a small caliber handgun, and the suspect's clothing, along with additional evidence.

pect's clothing, along with additional evidence.

Rocha allegedly confessed to the shooting, and now is being held at the Nueces County Jail, officials said.

Rocha is being charged with one count of first-degree murder and one count of aggravated kidnapping in the first-degree.

Officials said the kidnapping charges stem from Rocha allegedly forcing Howell at gunpoint to drive him from the scene after the shooting.

Although the exact cause of the shooting is still under investigation, officials suspect the parties involved "may have been involved in a previous disturbance and (may) possibly have been under the influence of alcohol and/or illegal drugs at the time of the shooting."

Officials want to ensure the public understands there was only one suspect in this incident and he remains in jail as of Monday afternoon.

BPD officials said anyone with additional information is encouraged to contact the department at (361) 584-2443.


Orders to stay at home extended for city, county

Stay-at-home orders were extended by Kleberg County and City of Kingsville officials following the announcement of a second positive case of the novel coronavirus in the county.

County commissioners voted to extend the stay-at-home order through April 20 at 11:59 p.m.

The new order includes two new items amended into the order.

The first requires closure of the piers, boat ramps and water ways in Kleberg County to out-of-county residents.

However, those living in the county may still use the facilities while practicing social distancing guidelines of staying six feet apart from others.

The second addition to the county's order, Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid said, is instruction to limit only one member per household inside an essential business at a time, which mirrors Kingsville Mayor Sam Fugate's amendment to the city stay-at-home order, which he signed on April 6.

Madrid issued a stay-at-home order on March 26 to limit the spread of novel coronavirus, which was to run until April 8.

On April 1, the Kingsville City Commissioners extended their stay-at-home order through April 13.