Buddy the Dog free to reunite with owner
By Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News : January 24, 2014
SAN ANTONIO — Buddy the Dog's long wait to be reunited with his owner is just about over.
About 6:30 p.m. Friday, Animal Care Services spokeswoman Lisa Norwood said the agency completed an inspection of the dog owner's new home and it successfully met all of the requirements of the agreement to release the 6-year-old golden retriever mix.
Buddy and Homer Mojica, his 83-year-old owner, have been apart since early November, when Judge Daniel Guerrero ordered the dog's euthanization for attacking a 9-year-old girl at a Northwest Side apartment complex in November.
Mojica said the dog was startled by the little girl when she screamed at him. But the girls' parents say the attack was unprovoked and required stitches and surgery to her face.
Last week, after weeks of negotiations between Mojica's attorney, Michelle Maloney, and city officials, the city agreed to release Buddy to the custody of Mojica's veterinarian until the last details of his release were finalized.
ACS is not releasing the new location to where the canine will be released.
“The terms of the settlement necessary for the release of Buddy were successfully abided by,” Norwood said.
But it was unclear Friday night if Buddy and his owner had already been reunited.
“It is our understanding they have free access to Buddy,” Norwood said.
The saga of Buddy the Dog comes to a close after days of supporters questioning why the canine hadn't already been released to his owner.
While negotiations were underway, more than 6,000 people signed an online petition for the dog's release. Supporters held a “Send Buddy Home,” rally Saturday at Alamo Plaza, seeking a change to the state law of “serious bodily injury,” and language, which allows dogs to be euthanized if they cause an injury resulting in severe bite wounds or severe ripping and tearing of muscle.
The girl's parents said their daughter suffered a torn eye duct, a gash on her cheek and a cut on the corner of her lip. They said she received 100 stitches to her cuts and a tear duct had to be mended during an hour and a half surgery.
As Mojica's attorney and city officials worked on the agreement, Mayor Julián Castro said “he believed an agreement could be reached that would allow Buddy to live.”
Even after the city backed down on their plans to euthanize them, it's taken almost a week to actually release him.
In an email on Thursday, animal activist John Bachman said ACS has been reminded of a paragraph that states the city agreed to release Buddy upon signature of the agreement.
“It seems apparent that the city, at least Animal Care Services and the city attorney's office cannot be relied on to act in good faith in this matter,” Bachman said. “This is not some contest and should not be treated as such.”
Norwood said they were waiting for the owner to meet the requirements of the agreement, which would address keeping the public safe from possible future incidents. Once all terms of the settlement were met, she said, ACS would release Buddy.
Norwood said the sticking point was where Buddy's owner new home would be. Supporters said management at Mojica's old apartment complex notified him that Buddy would not be allowed to return to the property.
“It's our understanding that the Mojicas' are in the process of looking to relocate, so once they do so, we'd be happy to schedule an inspection for them,” Norwood said, before Buddy's release. “We can come to their apartment, duplex or house, whatever the case may be. We want to do an inspection of the location to ensure not only that the location is secure, but to again make sure there's not going to be future events.”
Norwood said the agreement detailed several restrictions to be completed before Buddy could be released back to Mojica. Terms of the settlement for Mojica and his wife, Kathryn included: Buddy being kept in a secure enclosure when not on a leash, muzzled when outdoors and kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet when in public. As Buddy's owners, the Mojicas will have to keep liability insurance of $100,000 as long as he's their dog.