By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
"I sold my business; I had a long-distance company. I sold my farm so I could focus all of my energies on this full time." In Denver, Miami, Houston and Dallas, Garcia had similar impacts; in Missouri, he and a member of Missouri law enforcement began the National Cruelty Investigators School at the University of Missouri. Today, in addition to his work for the SPCA, Garcia sits on the board of directors for the Texas Humane Legislature Network. "We draft new laws, solicit supporters for those laws and people to carry those laws into legislative session for us. We lobby, and we testify in front of the House of Representatives."
Garcia has handled animals ranging from tigers to miniature horses, and despite the anger he sometimes feels toward bad owners, he takes care to keep his temper in check. "I have to remember that if I do something negative on that site, that makes us lose the case, then those animals are going to go back," he says. Still, the sights aren't easy to stomach. "My first six years in this work, it almost killed me. I got a divorce because of this. I had to go to rehab because I was drinking all the time--every night, because all I saw all day long are those horrific conditions and this horrible treatment of animals." With support from the agencies he worked for, Garcia began to understand that although he was helping animal welfare immensely, he was focusing on the horror, the torture and the fighting.
Now, his focus is positive. He's worked undercover busting puppy mills and dog-fighting rings. Gaining custody in his cases is an important step to providing a better life for a creature, but he cannot focus on the circumstances from which he rescues the animals. "I got 143 dogs out of horrible conditions in Canton, and those animals are going to bring joy and happiness to a lot of people. That's what makes my job worth doing now. At the shelters, that's where the memories begin."