CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Saturday afternoon, Elias and Renee Caudillo were arrested after 14 dogs were found in distress inside their U-Haul.
Police investigators confirmed Animal Care Services had been dispatched to the residence of Elias and Renee Caudillo five times over the past year to investigate reports of the neglect of the animals.
However, during the investigations, no evidence was found to take action.
“The prior investigations into the address were conducted by animal care services, and at that time we investigated every complaint fully that came in,” said Joel Skidmore, the program manager for Animal Care Services.
The Caudillos were arrested Saturday and charged with cruelty to non-lifestock animals and possession of a controlled substance after several dead dogs were discovered inside their U-Haul, along with crystal meth.
Of the 14 dogs in the vehicle, nine were pronounced dead at the scene, and five were transported to the Oso Creek Animal Hospital.
“Unfortunately, two of them, their condition was too severe to recover from, and to prevent further suffering, the tough decision to euthanize them was made. Yesterday, we received an update on the three dogs that were still there, that they were in stable but critical condition. The update that we received today is that their condition has improved to stable," Skidmore said.
According to the police report, there were conflicting reports about how long the animals had been in the U-Haul, but police believe it was longer than an hour in the 90+ degree heat Saturday.
“Obviously, the main concern is the welfare of the animals that are still being treated, but at the same time, we have to start the investigation to hold the people accountable,” Skidmore said.
Skidmore is hopeful the dogs will be released from the animal hospital in the coming days, at which time they will return to animal care services. He said the response from the community and local rescues has been overwhelming.
"We have multiple partners that we work with that have reached out and offered assistance, whether it’s taking the dogs and helping continue their aftercare, or helping finding placements. Right now, once the animals are deemed stable enough, we are going to be transferring them to a rescue partner of ours,” he said.
Skidmore did not specify a timeframe for when the dogs could be sent to a rescue, but said it would depend on their condition after they are released from the animal hospital.
Police arrested Renee and Elias Caudillo for the incident. They were charged with cruelty to non-lifestock animals and possession of a controlled substance after finding crystal meth inside the U-Haul.
Police have released the arrest reports with redactions to protect privacy. The arrest report for Elias Caudillo provides some clarification on the events that lead up to the arrest.
Arrest Report - Elias Caudillo by Ryan Garza on Scribd
Animal Control has confirmed that there were 14 dogs found inside the U-Haul. Eight puppies and one adult female dog were found dead at the scene. Five were transported to an animal hospital, where two were unfortunately euthanized to prevent further suffering, while three remain in critical but stable condition.
Jennifer Banda was one of the witnesses, and says she saw dogs laying on the floor and on a couch in the U-Haul. She says bystanders were pouring water and ice on the dogs for any sort of signs of life, adding a little girl even tried CPR on one of the dogs.
"It's really heartbreaking because you know we live in Texas. In this heat, why travel with dogs, especially in a haul that you know has no ventilation, no windows, nothing," said Banda.
Karina Ryan watched from work at Goo Goo Boujee Boutique shocked.
"They just look like they were out of life, lifeless, dead," said Ryan.
Corpus Christi Animal Care Services tells us some of the dogs unfortunately died at the scene, but some are being treated at an animal hospital emergency room.
Ryan says she hopes more people will be animal activists after this.
"We're just going to have more hot days so I hope that people really take you know the action to choose to bring their dogs inside."