Baby sitter suspected of taking drunken nap

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A Lake Geneva man accused of falling asleep drunk while baby-sitting a 3-year-old boy injured when he jumped from a second-floor window remained in the Walworth County Jail on Wednesday on a probation hold.

David A. Rasch, 41, was charged in late July with one count of child neglect resulting in great bodily harm, a felony that carries a prison sentence of up to six years.

Rasch appeared in Walworth County Court on Wednesday, but his case was reset for a 1 p.m. hearing on Oct. 27.

County officials want to hear from the state Department of Corrections about its plans to hold Rasch on 2007 criminal cases involving drugs and drunken driving as a repeater.

According to the criminal complaint in the child neglect case:

On the evening of May 30, Elkhorn police went to the apartment to help a boy that witnesses said had fallen out of a second-floor window.

The boy was lying on his back and screaming that he was hurt.

Neighbors told police they tried to contact an adult at the boy's apartment but nobody answered the door.

An officer knocked on the door for nearly two minutes and then tried to open it, but the door would open only a few inches.

The boy told police he had wanted to go outside, but he couldn't use the apartment door because a chair was in the way.

The boy then decided to jump out of a window.

The officer saw another child in the apartment who ran to a back bedroom and got Rasch out of bed.

As the officer talked with Rasch, he smelled of alcohol. Rasch then admitted drinking and falling asleep.

A breath test by police confirmed Rasch had been drinking.

The boy was treated at a hospital for a concussion, scrapes and bruises.

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Pet sitter cares for local animals when masters are away

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The 17-year-old silver and black-striped house cat has kidney failure, and for the past 10 years he has needed someone to hydrate him by plugging a needle into his side and injecting him with moisture. It's the feline equivalent of dialysis.

It's the middle of the day, however, and Sammy's owner aren't home. Jim and Joyce Deuser travel often, leaving him behind in their north McAllen home.

Enter Chris Chavez. For the past 10 years, Chavez has helped Sammy's owners by administering his medicine. Sammy knows him well, and he perks up and waits for his treatment when he sees Chavez.

Chavez pulls the hydration bag from a nearby cabinet and hangs it from the top of a door beside the ottoman. After a few minutes, the procedure is done.

Sammy jumps down and heads to the kitchen, where Chavez gives him a treat. The cat also waits and stares at Chavez until he pets him.

Doctors at Texas A&M treated Sammy years ago for his kidney problems. At first, the Deusers brought him to a veterinarian each time he needed hydration. Sammy became tense and aggressive. Joyce Deuser says hiring Chris has kept the cat happy and healthy.

"He's just been outstanding, reliable, dependable, and we trust him, he's like a second son to us," Joyce says. "(Sammy) is as fond of Chris as we are, and Chris gives him shots every week."

A former veterinary technician, Chavez now works full-time as a pet sitter for Sammy and hundreds of other Valley animals.

While you're away all day or on vacation, Chavez cares for your dog, cat, reptile, bird or livestock. If they need medicine, he can administer that, too. He can also taxi them to a veterinarian's office.

If you're away for a while, he will also care for your home. He'll bring in your mail and newspaper, he'll water your plants and he'll make sure your pet hasn't messed on the rug or broken a lamp.

He has more than 150 clients throughout Hidalgo County, and his business has slowly grown since he started it in 1999.

Back then Chavez was a veterinary technician at Nolana Animal Hospital in McAllen. He worked with the animals, specializing in aggressive and uncooperative pets. He handled snapping dogs and cats that scratched.

"Some animals get scared at the doctor's," he says. "You can have a really good cat or dog go in there and be really different."

So Chavez would put on thick, arm-covering gloves and wrap the animals in a protective blanket. He would sit with them until they relaxed. Chavez, who is soft spoken, says owners tell him his calm demeanor soothes their pets.

His work with aggressive animals led to his career as a pet sitter. A client at Nolana Animal Hospital had a giant Schnauzer who didn't like strangers. The client couldn't board the pet at a kennel or even have a friend tend to it, so it was nearly possible to go on vacation.

Chavez volunteered to help.

"It took me a couple months going out there, but finally he got used to me," Chavez says.

That client told friends about Chavez. Thanks to word of mouth, Chavez began to pet sit for many people.

He continued to work at the animal hospital as his side business grew. By 2004, he had enough work to leave his tech job. He went full-time with the pet sitting and registered his business, which he named Pet Sitting Services Plus.

He charges $10 a visit, and a little more for elaborate services such as watching a house over night or caring for larger animals.

Business booms during the summer and the holidays, when many families go on vacation. Around Christmas, Chavez often works from 7 a.m. until midnight. Occasionally his girlfriend helps him, but only with clients that he has known for years.

He doesn't advertise his business, and picks up new clients largely through word of mouth. Nolana Animal Hospital recommends him to patients.

Chavez enjoys his job, and he loves working with animals. His dream, however, is to eventually open a kennel. He doesn't have financing or a location, but Chavez has developed a business plan and blueprints.

Most importantly, though, he already knows hundreds of dogs, cats and other animals who are comfortable being around him.