A full-time cruelty investigator is a relatively new position within Corpus Christi Animal Control Services, but it might already be making a difference.
"Mainly we have a change in management," cruelty investigator Vanessa Scarbrough said. "They actually made cruelty investigator a full time position, so that's all we do now is investigate cruelty. So, we have better staffing to allow us to do these investigations and seize cases like this."
The case she's talking about is the removal of 426 animals from the Pets and More Plus store at the Trade Center a week ago Friday over accusations of poor treatment. Following a municipal court hearing in that case this morning, Scarbrough described the conditions she says she and another cruelty investigator have observed there over the last several weeks.
"We've been doing follow-ups since June 14 on the Trade Center," she said. "The animals have been in poor conditions. They don't have food or water and there are unsanitary conditions with feces in the cages."
Scarbrough says the decision to raid the store came after repeatedly warning owner Arslan Ijaz to make improvements to no avail. Ijaz disagrees, and he says the day of the raid, animal control got there early in the day, before he and his workers could do daily cleaning and just after a delivery of 400 parakeets arrived.
"They got there as soon as the Trade Center opened, so that's not enough time for us to do anything," Ijaz said.
He's asking his customers to come to another municipal court hearing next Friday and testify on his behalf. He's hopeful that the judge will rule that the animals should be returned to him.
"What I'm asking as a citizen and a resident of Nueces County, Corpus Christi, Texas that this court to give us a chance to open up that business," Ijaz said.
Scarbrough didn't say how she'd like the judge to rule, but she did give an update on the seized animals that several caretakers are now tending to.
"We did have some animals that died as a result of the poor care they were receiving at the pet shop," she said. "So, we're trying to turn that around and make sure everyone is cared for moving forward."