Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas
  

Animal Control in Hill County Non-Existent:

Dangerous, Unprofessional, and Unacceptable

 

Based on a pet population formula provided by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), over half American household have 1.6 dogs and/or 2.1 cats.  This equates to some 11,325 dogs and 16,914 cats living in Hill County (total of 28,239 pets).  These figures are estimates of household pets only and do not include the estimated thousands of unwanted dogs and cats that are “dumped” each year in our rural areas.  Hill County’s pet overpopulation issue is a direct result of irresponsible pet owners who do not sterilize their pets and allow them to roam and proliferate at will.  We live in a county where 70% of our population lives in areas without animal control services.  One pair of uncontrolled breeding dogs can produce 4,372 offspring in just four years; cats can produce 420,715 offspring in this same period.

Even with a State Law that makes it mandatory for pets to be vaccinated against the rabies virus, many owners are negligent and refuse to comply.  Despite the fact that rabies is nearly 100% fatal in humans and can be easily transmitted through contact with unvaccinated cats and dogs who may carry the disease, some pet owners callously disregard the law.  An individual not in compliance can be adjudged guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and be punished by a fine not to exceed $500.  Pet owners who still resist vaccinating their animals shouldn’t – they could pay significantly less out of their own pockets by visiting one of the local veterinarians and having their pets vaccinated.

It is not known how many pets in Texas do not get rabies vaccinations, but estimates run from 50-70% of pets being unvaccinated or not current on vaccinations.  This is a significant number for Hill County.  Based on our county’s estimates of pet overpopulation, there are potentially 14,119-19,767 dogs and cats not vaccinated in Hill County (based on the 50-70% range estimate).  The odds are too great that one of these pets could become infected with rabies since Hill County is labeled as a quarantine rabies county.  Rabies is usually transmitted through infected saliva as a result of a bite from an infected animal.  Symptoms of infected animals include viciously attacking any moving object, person, or animal; a caged rabid dog will chew the wire, break their teeth, and try to bite a hand moving in front of the cage.  Rabid cats will attack suddenly, biting and scratching.  Infected animals will invade yards and attack dogs, cows, and other animals.

Rabies is dangerous and basic prevention must be sought with animal control.  The potential for coming into contact with a sick or rabid animal is not a concern for just pet owners or just for our city and county law enforcement personnel.  Individual stories and accounts by citizens of Hill County have been pouring in to volunteers with HCPP and we are working to organize them and present them to the public.  Verifiable accounts of attacks on livestock and pets by stray dogs, reports of unprovoked bites by strange dogs on our county residents, are just a few of the preventable occurrences being recorded by taxpaying citizens.

Pet overpopulation burdens each of our citizens and our community as a whole with health, economic, legal, and safety liabilities.  The past attitude of our county government with regard to animal control has been one of indifference—dangerous, unprofessional, and unacceptable.  We, as tax paying citizens, cannot allow ineptness in dealing with so serious a problem.

Push for positive change by letting your voice be heard.  Write your Honorable County Judge Justin Lewis and your Commissioner at P.O. Box 457, Hillsboro, Texas 76645—these elected officials work for ALL of us, not just a select few.  To download suggested letter material for writing to elected officials, click here.  For more information about Hill County Paw Pals call 580-0679 or email us at hcpawpals@yahoo.com.

 

This article has been disseminated to area newspapers and Hill County Paw Pals’ vast email network.

January 2007