Posted: Jan 25, 2013 7:19 PM
Updated: Jan 25, 2013 7:21 PM
BROWNSVILLE - City of Brownsville officials will decide if a pack of dogs that attacked their owners will be euthanized or put up for adoption.
The 29 animals attacked Josefina Ledezma, 63, and her sister Estele Regalado, 61, when one of the women dropped some food on the ground. The women were taken to a hospital after suffering bites to their arms and legs.
The women's 91-year-old mother also was taken to the hospital after officials determined there were toxic fumes from the unsanitary conditions in the home.
The dogs were quarantined.
Brownsville Health Department officials said they want to know why the women had so many dogs in their home.
Neighbors living near the women's house on 17th Street said the house is a safety and health hazard.
"How are you going to have so many dogs in one house? You could hear them, making noise and barking, but it was always closed in there. I don't know why they had so many dogs there," Aide Hernandez said.
Officials said the number of dogs made conditions at the home dangerous.
"One of them had some food and dropped it, and apparently the dogs went after it. From there it stemmed to the aggression," Brownsville Police Officer Jose Rodriguez said.
"They appear to be underfed and malnourished. They also don't know about their vaccines and their shots," Brownsville Health Director Art Rodriguez said.
Police and animal control officers claimed they had never been called to the home.
Animal experts said the sheer number of animals caused an unstable environment where the women were no longer in control.
Veterinarian Robert Zamorano, with Border Animal Hospital in Weslaco, said the animals simply reverted back to their primal instincts.
"You don't have the time to work on the obedience, the discipline and so they kind of manage themselves," Zamorano said.
He said feeding order takes over in the ranking among the animals. Feeding the wrong dog at the wrong time can be a formula for trouble.
"If one dog that wasn't at the top got that tortilla, it disrupted the pecking order and that's where it went chaotic," Zamorano said.
He said the dogs did not turn on the women; they were simply fighting for food.
Brownsville's dog ownership city ordinance allows a maximum of three dogs per residence. The law imposes a fine of $500 for every dog over the limit. The women had 29 dogs in their house.