Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas

Today is Thursday
by Betty Hendricks and Sarah Bennett

Today is Thursday.  In the past I looked forward to Thursday, my usual day off from work.  Now Thursdays have taken on a whole new meaning.  Thursday is execution day at the city animal shelter.  Well, they really call it euthanasia because it does sound better.  On Thursday morning, the dogs no one wants or cares about anymore are given a lethal injection and their souls quietly leave this earth.  They did nothing wrong; their only mistake was being born into a world in which no one wanted them or simply wandering too far from home one day and no one came to the shelter to find them.  I like to think they are going to a better place, one where they finally know love, respect, and peace and are finally free from the suffering most of them knew during their lives and in their final days on this earth.  Thursday mornings I say a prayer for each of these little souls, God’s creatures, and I pray that Paw Pals continues to go forward so the fate of these dogs is not what lies in store for future dogs in Hill County.  I also pray that some day there will be no animals at the shelter on Thursday mornings and all the dogs and cats in Hill County have a home or at least receive a respectful, peaceful final end to their lives.

Hillsboro and Hill County have a severe pet overpopulation problem.  In Hill County, at least 1000 dogs are euthanized each year and hundreds more are abandoned in rural areas and left to die alone of starvation and disease.  Hill County Paw Pals formed to tackle this problem.  Building a new shelter for Hillsboro that can be contracted for county use is a main Paw Pals’ goal.  A new animal shelter will not solve pet overpopulation.  However, an animal shelter that reflects the concern of citizens for these animals can be a source of pride for our community and civic leaders and it can be a large step forward in improving current conditions.  In Texas, 30% of animals from shelters can be saved through adoption programs.  Our current shelter does not have an area where citizens can come to view and adopt prospective new pets.  In fact, the current shelter lacks air conditioning, heating, kennel runs or proper drainage so animals must lie in or next to their excrement until it is cleaned by the Animal Control Officer (ACO).  The current ACO does the absolute best job he can in caring for these dogs with the shelter as it is, but we can and must do better.  The construction of a new shelter will offer so much more than simply a holding facility for animals awaiting euthanasia.  It will offer adoption options, a clean, safe holding facility, and for those animals with no other options: a respectful, peaceful death in compliance with the mandates of the state of Texas.

Paw Pals has a vision to improve the fate of pets in Hill County.  Paw Pals is a non-profit group that plans to work with the Animal Control officer(s) to make a local animal shelter a place of hope.  Paw Pals has raised funds to build a new facility that will offer adoption opportunities for abandoned dogs and cats (donated at no cost to tax payers).  The city of Hillsboro has no legislation that authorizes animal control to pick up stray cats, but Paw Pals plans to offer a cattery at the shelter, dedicated to the memory of Krissy Leatherwood.  The cattery would offer homeless cats a chance for a new home.

Again, a new animal shelter will not fix the pet overpopulation problems in Hill County.  However, a low cost spay/neuter program is the crux of getting control of the situation we’re in right now: more animals being born than there are people to care for them.  Paw Pals has instituted a highly successful program under the direction of Kathy Moore through collaboration with TCAP, the Texas Coalition for Animal Protection.  Approximately 600 pets have been sterilized over the past 15 months, and this has ultimately prevented the birth of about 6000 kittens and puppies.  Paw Pals urges each citizen of Hill County to have their pet spayed or neutered by their local veterinarian or through Paw Pals’ low cost spay/neuter clinic and to ensure the healthy life for their pet by providing them regular wellness visits and vaccinations by a veterinarian.

The dogs in this picture are no longer here in this world.  Each week, however, they are replaced by more sets of hopeful eyes looking for a home.  Hillsboro and Hill County can and will do better, but only with your help.  If you would like to do your part in helping Hill County Paw Pals reach its goal of eliminating pet overpopulation in Hill County, please call 580-0679 or email hcpawpals@yahoo.com.  If you need information about the low cost spay/neuter clinic, please call Kathy Moore at 582-9374.