By Animal Control Officer Amy Snider
The main focus of the Texas City Animal Control Department is to:
- Enforce County and City Ordinances, State and Federal Laws
- Protect Our Community from Zoonotic Diseases
- Protect the Welfare of Animals
- Keep Our Streets Clean of Stray and Diseased Animals
- TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE EVERY DAY!!
Texas City has several ordinances in place to secure the safety and welfare of our citizens, animals, and the community as an entity. Animal Control
responds to complaints from citizens, self-initiated calls, and follow ups on a daily basis. This department, on average, responds to approximately 900 calls for service monthly, with call loads increasing during summer and holiday peaks. Texas City Animal Control operates with three officers, as well as assistance from the Texas City Police Department officers after hours. Animal Control receives complaints of all types and nature, never having any idea of what the day might hold. This makes the job very interesting, and furthers our knowledge and skills daily.
Any animal that can leave its property at its own free will is considered “running at large.” If Animal Control responds to a dog astray, our first goal is to find the animal’s home. Officers try to educate the public, and make the owners take responsibility for their dog, rather than just picking up the dog. Through experience, officers have learned that education is the key to a proactive community and is a long-lasting solution, rather than removing the owner’s responsibility for that animal. Owners that violate the leash law are subject to notice of violations, which results in fines paid to the Texas City Municipal Court. If owners do not take responsibility for their pet, and continue to let their dog roam, unfortunately, the animal will be removed by Animal Control.
Animal Control responds to many aggressive dog complaints in Texas City. In most cases, the aggressive animals can be calmed and befriended by the officer on scene. This is achieved by extensive training in self-control and animal behavior. If you encounter an animal that is acting aggressive towards you, please do not attempt to befriend it; and do not run from it. Provoking an animal is very dangerous, whether you may be intruding on the animal’s territory, making the animal feel threatened, or placing yourself as “prey”, and provoking the animal to capture you. The animal is simply behaving on natural instincts, or behavior instructed and learned by its owner. If you experience an animal at large showing aggressive tendencies or behavior, please attempt to get to a safe location, and contact animal control. This is a priority call, and an officer will be on scene with a quick response time. Officers can remove the animal, and secure the scene to prevent further incidences where a bite case might occur. If you, or any one you encounter, is bitten or scratched by any animal, where the skin has been punctured, please contact animal control immediately. Our number one goal is the safety of our community.
Our officers are also highly trained professional Animal Cruelty Investigators. This perhaps is the worst part of this career, being that all our officers are huge animal lovers. I am asked on a regular basis, “How do you do it?” The honest answer is that I am getting the animal out of a situation that causes it suffering, pain, starvation, dehydration, disease, abuse, and sometimes even death. It is horrible to see an animal in any cruel situation, though if it wasn’t for me, the animal would never be removed out of that situation. I have the legal authority to remove the animal, seek medical attention for it, provide it with proper food and water, provide it with love and patience, and possibly re-home it with a wonderful family. The violator, the person that committed the animal cruelty offenses, can be punished, imprisoned, and fined for the damage that he/she caused that animal. Cruelty to Animals is a serious offense under the Texas Penal Code. Violators who are found guilty for Animal Cruelty in the court of law can be charged with state felonies, depending on the degree of the case. Unfortunately, Texas City Animal Control gets numerous valid complaints on abused and neglected animals. Each complaint is investigated according to policy, as well as state and federal laws, and is handled professionally and seriously by the officer handling the case. Briefly, Animal Cruelty is defined as:
- Abandoning an animal in a cruel and unjustified manner.
- Failing to provide adequate food, water, shelter, or care.
- Confining an animal in a cruel manner.
- Torturing an animal.
- Dog fighting/ Cockfighting.
- Seriously overworking an animal.
If you are aware of any animal that is being abused, neglected, abandoned, etc., please make our officers aware of the situation. Don’t wait until the animal is in critical condition. Citizens can help avoid the suffering of our animals by getting us involved before the situation gets out of hand. In some situations, education can save that animal’s life. Some cruelty situations are simply the result of uneducated owners failing to vaccinate, feed a proper diet, or using preventative medicine. With the help of our community, we can help prevent animal cruelty from happening in our city.
As always, lease take care of your pets and love them unconditionally. Remember that they depend on you… There is a reason why they say a dog is man’s best friend.
Special thanks to every good pet owner, volunteers, our community, and the Texas City Police Department for all of the wonderful support.