Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas

Abandoning Dogs/Cats is a Death Sentence
and Fuels Pet Over-Population
By Sarah Bennett

Abandoning a dog or cat out in the country or alongside a road or at a gas station or convenience store is a supreme act of cowardice and outright defiance of Texas laws enacted to try to make us better, more conscientious citizens. Penal Code 49.02 is the specific law prohibiting abandonment of companion animals and falls under the Texas Animal Cruelty Act. It carries with it a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. It has been referred to as “taking a dog for a ride” or “finding it a place on a nice farm.” Abandoning an animal cannot be sugar-coated, however, and an imagined happy ending is just a fantasy. In questioning people who have committed this crime—What exactly do you imagine happened to the animal?—the answers have varied from assumptions that a Good Samaritan happened along and rescued it or that it wandered along happily—free and wild and living off of the land. The reality of what most likely happened to each animal based upon statistics and logical assumptions made based upon dog and cat behaviors and instincts is ugly and the offenders usually do not want to know about it. The facts are that the vast majority of pets dumped wind up dead—not always quickly and very rarely painlessly. As many as 80% of these animals die horribly: they dehydrate, starve, are run over by vehicles, are killed by coyotes, are shot, or suffer and die from disease. Dogs and cats are domesticated companion animals ill-equipped to survive in the wild. The few who do manage to survive for any length of time merely breed and proliferate at will, adding to the pre-existing pet overpopulation crisis. There are not enough Good Samaritans in the world to clean up after every irresponsible pet owner.

The dogs pictured here were abandoned on a rural road in Hill County by their owner over three weeks ago. One has already died. The live dog is guarding its body. It can be assumed that they did not wander away from home or find their way to this spot on their own because the surviving dog continues to wait for his owner’s return, refusing to leave and fleeing from people who have tried to help him. He maintains an exclusive loyalty and an unswerving faith in a master who “took two dogs for a ride” and never looked back. His breed appears to be a Great Pyrenees and Mastiff or Shepherd mix. These breeds have strong instincts to guard and protect their area. This dog’s previous owner put him and his pack mate at this location where he will stay and guard his mate’s remains and await his owner’s return. His former master may be assuming both dogs found a Good Samaritan or a nice farm. He or she may not assume anything, choosing not to care and never think about either dog ever again. Maybe this person will read this article and see these pictures of two dogs who were once cared for enough to be trained to serve their master. Unfortunately for them, this master proved unworthy of such devotion.

Pets are dumped and abandoned over and over again in this great county. It is a sad occurrence and a dangerous one for our citizens. Hill County lacks basic animal control—a core service expected by taxpayers. An animal shelter would provide our citizens with humane alternatives for unwanted pets. Cruel abandonment is not the answer because it simply feeds the exponential growth of pet overpopulation—burdening our communities with health, economic, legal, and safety liabilities. The most responsible action pet owners can do is to sterilize their pets. Pet overpopulation can be corrected by proactively controlling it. Please spay or neuter your pets.