Eric King, NBC 5 News
Chris Apala (left) admits killing three puppies and setting them on fire, he claims he was being humane. While his girlfriend Melissa Woodard (right) says she had nothing to do with the dogs' deaths. Both face animal cruelty charges.
A Tarrant County man admits to killing three puppies with a stick before setting their bodies on fire in a barrel.
Chris Apala, 33, told NBC 5 the puppies were suffering, so he did the ”humane thing” and then “cremated them.”
Apala and his girlfriend, 38-year-old Melissa Woodard, and their eight dogs, were living at her sister's home on the 7300 block of Cottonwood Creek Road in northwest Tarrant County. On Saturday, Woodard's sister called 911 after finding three of those dogs burned dogs in a barrel.
Woodard and Apala were arrested in connection with the burned dogs and taken to the Tarrant County Jail; both now face animal cruelty charges and are being held on $15,000 bond.
Apala spoke with NBC 5 from the Tarrant County Jail on Tuesday.
"I took a stick, because they would not eat, they would not drink, they would not do anything but just lay there and whine, so I hit them with the stick one time a piece and let them lay there to make sure they were dead," Apala said in a jailhouse interview Tuesday.
Apala said that after about 20 minutes, where the dogs didn't move, he wrapped them in a sheet and "put them in a burn barrel and I burned them, like you would a human; cremation, instead of burying them."
Woodard told NBC 5 she had no knowledge of Apala killing or burning the dogs and that the puppies, which were less than 6-weeks-old, starved to death.
Apala and Woodard both admit to using methamphetamines and said they were hungry and unable to feed themselves. However, both said they were getting their drugs for free and not choosing to purchase drugs instead of food for themselves or their seven pets.
Apala and Woodard said none of their family members would help them with food or the dogs and Apala added that the Humane Society refused to come pick up the animals because they lived in a remote part of Tarrant County.
Tammy Hawley, the director of the Humane Society of North Texas could not confirm her organization ever received a phone call from Apala, but said, “We do offer a 24 hour emergency service. I assure you, if someone called and said we have animals, we would have made arrangements to pick them up, at no fee. It doesn’t matter where the animal is.”
Apala said he did not set the puppies on fire until he was certain they were dead, though Tarrant County investigators are still trying to determine if the puppies were killed before or after they were burned.
When asked if Apala’s actions were humane, Hawley said, “No. Absolutely not. He’s not qualified to determine that the animals were deceased. They could have been unconscious and burned alive.“
Hawley said that’s why state law requires animal professions to be certified in euthanasia so they can accurately certify death.
Apala said he is surprised by the charges. He said he is an animal lover and plans to immediately get another dog when he is released from jail.
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