A firefighter in Royse City, Texas got some big attention with his Facebook post showing two dead dogs he killed who had come onto his property. Tim Conatser wrote, “Somebody didn’t put any truth my warning. Keep your damn dogs on your property.” The Union Valley Fire Department has suspended Conatser with the intention of removing him from the department. The fire department has been receiving death threats since this story went viral. Now, a friend of Conatser says the dogs had been attacking Conatser’s animals inside his barn and had warned the neighbors. The neighbors say otherwise.
FOX4 contacted the owners, who found out on social media what happened to Gordo the black lab and Spike the yellow lab. They said no one ever complained to them about the dogs.
“I’m in shock! I don’t know, I don’t understand these people. Bad people, I don’t know,” said owner Pulido Rodrigo.
The dog owners told me they never got any warning from anyone about their dogs being a problem.
The Hunt County Constables Office and the SPCA are now investigating to determine if animal cruelty charges should be filed.
Family friend Kevin Forester said Conatser found the dogs inside his barn a couple of days earlier, while they were attacking his calf, and recognized them as belonging to his neighbor. “So he went over to his neighbor’s and told him that his dogs was getting in his barn and attacking his animals, to please ya know keep ‘em at home, put ‘em on a leash, build a fence, do something,” recalled Forester.
The friend says Conatser told him the neighbor didn’t care. We left messages with neighbors in the area, but haven’t heard back. There is a state statute that says a dog or coyote that attacks livestock, or domestic animals, may be killed by someone who witnesses it or the animals’ owner, and can’t be held liable for damages by the dog’s owner. Conatser is a volunteer firefighter with Union Valley. Union Valley Fire Chief Edward Ragsdale says Conatser realizes he made a mistake. “He says he apologized and he’s guilty of posting this on Facebook. He’s young and he recognizes what he did was wrong.” But the internet posting has resulted in the department receiving death threats from as far away as Europe. But Chief Ragsdale said all of the comments weren’t bad. “We’ve had comments all the way from England, Portugal, Canada, a lot of them negative. I would say for every negative comment, I’d say we had five in our favor.”
A volunteer fireman at the Union Valley Fire Department in Royse City, TX has been suspended and is under investigation after he posted a photo to his Facebook page of two dead dogs that he apparently killed. His message read, “Somebody didn’t put any truth my warning. Keep your damn dogs on your property.” The photo has gone viral on Facebook and the fire department was bombarded with angry messages calling for Tim Conatser’s termination.
The department responded quickly and appropriately. Their most recent message reads, “As previously stated, we do not condone the recent actions of one of our firefighters. We are following our policy in removing him from our department. This is now a civil/criminal matter that we have no jurisdiction over. Please forward all concerns to local law enforcement and/or the SPCA.”
The original message posted by the department was deleted because the comments had gotten “out of hand”. The original message read, “We have been made aware of the actions of one of our firefighters that occurred earlier today. We do not condone this behavior. There is an internal investigation being done on the future of this member with our fire department. As with any volunteer or paid fire department, we cannot control the actions of our members while off duty. I can assure you we are looking into this and will handle it appropriately.”
The fire department has asked residents to forward concerns to local law enforcement or the SPCA of Texas. Amy Lopez, an administrative assistant for Royse City police, said that the Hunt County Sheriff’s Department is looking into the matter and allegations the fireman killed the two dogs before he posted their photo. She said the Royse City Animal Shelter is helping with the investigation. Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks told KETR that Hunt County does not require owners to keep their pets confined, although a person has the right to use force if an animal on their property poses a threat to people, other animals or the property. Someone who shoots and animal that didn’t pose a threat can be charged with animal cruelty.
Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said that a person has the right to use force, including lethal force, if an animal on one’s property presents a possible danger to property, animals or people.
Regarding the responsibility of animal owners, Hunt County has no law requiring owners to keep pets confined, Meeks said. Leash laws exist in Greenville and Commerce, but not in unincorporated areas, Meeks said.
If someone shoots an animal that was not presenting a possible danger, that person could be charged with animal cruelty, Meeks said.
“I don’t know why people post things on social media, but they do,” Meeks said.