Fort Worth

‘Thank God you’re a lousy shot,’ Fort Worth dog owner tells man who shot his pet

Nearly two years ago, it was the shot heard around Fort Worth.

As candidates were gearing up for that year’s May election, Pilar Candia — then a candidate for the Fort Worth school board — was campaigning on the city’s east side with her husband, Pedro Juarez Jr., and their children.

That day, Juarez ended up shooting Alan Smith’s longtime pet, then 10-year-old Duncan, a border collie and golden retriever mix.

Nearly 24 months — and countless court hearings — later, Juarez this week pleaded guilty to charges related to the shooting and faces 18 months of deferred adjudication probation.

“It was fair,” said Smith, who talked to Juarez after the court hearing. “We shook hands and said, ‘Let’s let bygones be bygones.’ He said he was sorry for shooting my dog.

“I said, ‘Thank God you’re a lousy shot.’”

News of the 2017 shooting quickly spread on social media, particularly Facebook, as some posts in support of Candia’s opponent stated: “Vote for Ashley Paz. She promises not to shoot your dog.”

Paz handily won that election 58-42 percent.

The shooting

Court records showed that Juarez said he and his family were walking in the 2900 block of Meadowbrook Drive on April 30, 2017, when an “unleashed dog” came running at him and “he feared the dog was becoming aggressive,” according to an affidavit in the case.

“Pedro then fired one shot from his 9 mm handgun that he had concealed in his waistband at the dog, hitting the dog near his head.”

Smith, who was in his neighbor’s back yard at the time, heard the shot and saw his dog, Duncan, who was covered in blood, running to him. He rushed him to an animal hospital, where workers removed bullet fragments from Duncan’s face. The bill was around $2,500.

Candia, a former district director for former Councilman Sal Espino, texted Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald about the incident. The two also later talked about it.

The next month, Juarez was charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm. Other charges were later added.

Juarez did not respond to a Star-Telegram email seeking comment.

The sentencing

In court, Juarez pleaded guilty to three charges related to the shooting — unlawful possession of a firearm, cruelty to a non-livestock animal and reckless discharge of a firearm within a municipality, according to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.

His sentence: 18 months of deferred adjudication probation.

During that time, Juarez is to pay the dog’s vet bills, forfeit his gun, attend an anger management course, attend a handgun safety class and do 40 hours of community service with the Fort Worth animal control/shelter, according to the DA’s office.

Smith told the court that he was willing to take half of the money for the vet bills because he felt he was “halfway responsible.”

He said he thought that as long as his dogs were on his property, then he was complying with the law.

He has since learned — through a day-long course on responsible pet ownership that he took in order to get two citations for having unrestrained animals dismissed — that wasn’t enough and his dogs should have been restrained.

After the court hearing, when Juarez apologized for shooting Duncan, Smith said he also apologized for cursing in front of his daughters the day of the shooting.

“I was extremely impressed with Mr. Smith’s demeanor, congeniality and honesty,” said Daniel Hernandez, a Fort Worth attorney who, along with Phillip Hall, represented Juarez in court.

Duncan update

Smith said Duncan, who will be 12 in June, is doing just fine.

He wore a cone and ate soft dog food for a while, since he had to have some teeth removed.

“Not having any teeth to chew on in the upper quadrant hasn’t slowed him down,” Smith said with a chuckle.

One change Smith has noticed is that Duncan — who never in the past was startled by loud noises — now has a problem when he hears firecrackers.

“He’s just shell-shocked on New Years and the Fourth of July,” Smith said. “He rolls up into a ball when the firecrackers start going off.”

But it’s time to move forward.

“I’ve moved on,” Smith said. “It doesn’t do any good to stay upset.”

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Anna M. Tinsley grew up in a journalism family and has been a reporter for the Star-Telegram since 2001. She has covered the Texas Legislature and politics for more than two decades and has won multiple awards for political reporting, most recently a third place from APME for deadline writing. She is a Baylor University graduate.