WALKER, LA — What started as an attempted act of compassion ended with an arrest for animal cruelty after a Walker man became “enraged” with the refusal of help from a local animal shelter.
On July 9 a man showed up at the Walker Animal Control Shelter on Ballpark Road in Walker seeking to drop off four kittens he claimed to have found on South Satsuma Road. However, City of Walker ordinances limit animals the Shelter may accept to those found within the city limits. As a result, the kittens, estimated to be approximately 5 weeks old, could not be accepted.
After Animal Control officials explained to the man that the Shelter could not accept the kittens, he became angry and left, indicating that he would solve the problem another way.
According to Walker Police, the Animal Control Director was concerned by the conduct and comments of the man, so she followed him out of the Shelter and observed him get into a pickup truck driven by another man.
“Animal Control officials reported that a blue Dodge pickup truck occupied by the two men rapidly accelerated out of the Shelter parking lot,” reported Captain John Sharp, Walker Police Public Information Officer. “Upon reaching Ballpark Road, the truck stopped and the kittens were thrown from the passenger side window onto the roadway. The two men then fled the area at a high rate of speed.”
Animal Control employees quickly gathered up the four kittens and brought them into the Animal Shelter. While Walker Police were being contacted, the kittens were carefully examined and found to be uninjured.
Upon arrival, Walker Police interviewed the Animal Control Director concerning the truck and a description of the men.
“We were pleased to learn that as the subjects were leaving the Shelter, the Animal Control Director photographed the rear of the truck with her cell phone,” Captain Sharp stated. “Thanks to the quick thinking of the Director, the photograph was available for use in our investigation. Without the photo to use as a starting point, it would have been very difficult to determine the identity of the suspects.”
From the photograph, police were able to determine the license plate number of the truck and identify its registered owner.
“Although we knew the occupants of the truck had been men, the truck was found to be registered to a woman,” said Captain Sharp. “But with the identity of the truck owner known, we were able to use various resources to identify male family members and known associates of the truck’s owner. With that information, photographs of potential suspects were obtained and shown to Animal Control officials who were able to identify the suspects, both of whom were relatives of the truck owner.”
Walker Police arrested Victor Romero, 31, on Thursday, July 18, and charged him with four counts of cruelty to animals. Cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor, and as a result, Romero was issued a misdemeanor summons for the violations.
Oscar Romero, 53, was arrested by Walker Police on Tuesday, July 24 at his home where he originally told Walker Police he was not involved in the incident.
“Oscar Romero was charged with four counts of being a principal to cruelty to animals,” said Captain Sharp. “We originally intended on charging Mr. Romero with only the animal cruelty counts and issuing him a misdemeanor summons. However, when Walker Officer Mitchell Fouse advised Mr. Romero of the charges against him, Mr. Romero regrettably demonstrated poor judgment, indicating to Officer Fouse that he was not inclined to cooperate. Consequently, and following a brief and unsuccessful struggle, Mr. Romero was arrested, taken into custody and booked into the Livingston Parish Detention Center on the animal cruelty charges, as well as careless operation, driving under suspension and resisting arrest.”
Romero subsequently posted a $3,530.00 bond and was released from jail.
If found guilty of animal cruelty charges, each Romero man could be fined up to $500.00 and sentenced up to 60 days in jail on each count. Oscar Romero faces additional penalties in connection with the charges of resisting arrest, driving under suspension and careless operation.