Woman adopts dog from local shelter, ends up in court

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KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) A Harker Heights woman who adopted a dog from the Killeen Animal Shelter that turned out to be pregnant ended up in court facing a fine of as much as $1,000 after she followed her veterinarian’s recommendation to postpone having the dog spayed until the puppies were weaned.

Cristina Chapa with her dogs. (Photo by Chelsea Edwards)

Residents who adopt animals from the shelter are required to send in proof that their pets have been spayed or neutered within 30 days of the adoption.

Cristina Chapa adopted her Chiweenie, Cha Cha, in April and took her to the vet before the end of the month when she noticed the dog’s weight gain.

A Chiweenie is a cross between a Chihuahua and Dachshund

She was informed that Cha Cha would be ready to deliver puppies within a couple of weeks.

According to a letter from her veterinarian, Chapa was told that she could terminate the pregnancy, but it would put the dog at risk because she was approaching her due date.

Chapa says she called the shelter after she found out the dog was pregnant and again in May when she helped Cha Cha deliver six puppies.

She later received calls from the shelter, one of which came from an animal control officer asking why her dog hadn't been spayed.

“It was the only time I received any information about any type of rule about receiving a pregnant animal, and by then, (the puppies) were six weeks old,” Chapa said.

“That's also when he told me that I should have- or could have--taken (the puppies) back, and that they would have terminated them."

She claims the officer said terminating the pregnancy would have helped control the pet population, but she was informed too late, and she also did not agree morally with the option.

At the request of the officer, she says she sent in the letter from her veterinarian confirming that spaying the dog while she was pregnant would have put Cha Cha at “high risk.”

Then in July, Chapa received a notice to appear in court this month.

She intended to plead not guilty, but says a person whom she described as a court attendant told her the prosecutor was out and that she could see the judge more quickly if she pleaded no contest to charges of failing to spay and vaccinate.

A no contest plea is neither a denial nor admission of guilt, but does mean a defendant is willing to accept punishment.

By that time, the puppies were fully weaned and Chapa had complied with the adoption requirements.

But she was facing a fine of as much as $1,000.

She sought a retrial, but on Thursday her request was denied.

The judge ruled that Chapa waived her right to a jury trial by pleading no contest in her first court appearance

Including court costs, she is now facing more than $300 in fines, less than the maximum $1,000 that could have been imposed.

She says she has already spent close to $1,000 on Cha Cha’s vet bills and vaccinations for the puppies.

The shelter did not return requests for comment.

Chapa says her family will focus on the joy the new puppies have brought to their lives instead of her battle with the shelter.

“I think they need to have some compassion for people who are trying to save and adopt animals and do the right thing instead of harassing them and reprimanding them for not terminating the animals that they adopt,” she says.

Chapa reached out on social media and has found homes for all six of Cha Cha’s puppies, including the one that she's keeping for herself.