By Moses Leos III
A woman injured in a June dog attack in the Waterleaf Falls subdivision has filed a $1 million lawsuit against the City of Kyle and four other defendants.
The suit, filed in Hays County last week, was made against the dogs’ owners, Alba Mercado Cruz and Daniel Viera, the City of Kyle, Waterleaf Falls’ management company, Goodwin Management, and the Waterleaf Falls homeowners association.
The lawsuit seeks settlement after the “gross negligence” of all parties led to her injuries, along with the death of the woman’s own dog.
Litigation filed on behalf of the victim, Amy Jensen, states that “all defendants knew, or should have known” that the dogs had “dangerous propensities abnormal to their class.” In addition, the suit claims that the dogs’ “propensity to escape” posed a risk to the public at large.
The suit stems from an incident that occurred on June 11, when Jensen and her dog, Jax, were attacked by four pitbull mixed breed dogs while on an early morning walk.
The four dogs, owned by Cruz and Viera, had escaped from the backyard of their home on Cushman Drive.
Jensen suffered injuries to her head, arms and legs in the attack. Her dog, which was mauled by the pitbulls, later died at an area veterinarian clinic.
The suit claims at no time did Cruz or any resident attempt to stop the attack or offer assistance to Jensen. Residents in Cruz’s home retrieved the dogs and washed blood off of them, according to the lawsuit.
Both Cruz and Viera were arrested in July on the charge of attack by dog, which is a felony violation of the Texas State Health and Safety Code.
But the suit claims that the city, along with the HOA and Goodwin knew about the problem, but failed to act.
Issues began when Amy’s brother, Pat, sent an email about the dogs to the HOA prior to Amy moving into the home. The email sent in May 2014 expressed concerns over two pitbulls in Cruz’s yard that were aggressive and charging the fence. Jensen’s backyard shared a fence with Cruz’s.
The HOA responded by stating, “It was not their responsibility,” but forwarded his email to board members and Goodwin. They asked that he notify Kyle Animal Control.
But issues arose again in Nov. 2014. Jensen at that time notified Goodwin there were at least ten pitbulls living in “horrid conditions” in Cruz’s backyard.
Goodwin informed her they would issue a “courtesy letter regarding the number of pets,” but that Animal Control needed to be involved. But Jensen, in another complaint made that month, questioned whether Goodwin sent the letter.
According to the suit, the Waterleaf HOA limits residents to four dogs per household. In June 2014, Cruz’s pitbulls had a litter of 12 puppies, totaling 14 in the household at that time.
Other residents also had issues with the dogs. One resident in March 2015 notified Goodwin that three of the dogs had chewed through their shared fence and entered her backyard. That person said they felt like “hostages in our homes.”
The problem soon reached the developer of KB Homes. On March 30, a customer service representative sent emails to Goodwin about residents’ concerns over the dogs; the representative “expressed concern” of the situation becoming a liability.
Goodwin responded by saying it issued a violation and would follow up.
But Jensen had two separate encounters with several of the dogs on May 31, 2015. An unknown number of Cruz’s pitbulls, which had gotten loose, began to run aggressively at her. She called both the Kyle Police Department and Animal Control, but the suit claims neither party took a statement from Jensen, nor investigated the matter.
In a statement from the City of Kyle, the city is aware of litigation, but cannot comment, as it is a pending lawsuit.
“However, this presents another opportunity to remind pet owners about taking responsibility to properly care for and control their animals,” the city’s statement said. “Failure to do so can result in damage and injury to property and individuals that is otherwise preventable.”