Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas

County Sheriff is a Key Player in Correcting Pet Overpopulation


The demographics of Hill County define its rural nature as one in which over 60% of its citizens live in areas without local (city) law enforcement.  Their only source of law enforcement protection is the Hill County Sheriff’s Office.  Over 70% of Hill County’s citizens live in areas without a dedicated Animal Control Officer (only Hillsboro and Whitney have Animal Control Officers).  By default, according to State law, in these areas without an animal control office, Hill County Sheriff’s Office becomes the “animal control authority” (as clearly defined in Texas Health and Safety Code 822.001).  This fact makes the office of the Hill County Sheriff an important community position and critical member in the county’s team to correct its worsening and menacing pet overpopulation issue.

Pet overpopulation and the dangers it brings can only be corrected by embracing three proactive programs that work simultaneously together.  These programs also need the support of a central, physical animal shelter as its nucleus—of which Hill County Paw Pals has been working hard for the past four years to facilitate.  The essential proactive programs in correcting pet overpopulation are Education, Sterilization and Legislation.  Paw Pals has been working successfully with its education program—the most important.  The program of Sterilization includes Paw Pals’ sponsorship of the monthly Low Cost Sterilization and Vaccination Clinic which has demonstrated great success with over 1,200 pet sterilizations and 3,500 rabies vaccinations being administered.  Legislation, which is of equal importance, should be thought of as the “long arm of the law” and this is where the Sheriff’s Office becomes a key player.

Pet overpopulation stems mostly from irresponsible people who refuse to be educated—this is where law enforcement, or legislation, comes into play.  Again, because Hill County is rural in nature with over 70% of its citizens living in areas outside an animal control officer to serve them, the Sheriff’s Office becomes the enforcer of existing State of Texas animal control laws.  These laws, if proactively enforced, would bring correction to our county’s pet overpopulation issue by adjusting irresponsible pet owners’ attitudes with necessary fines.  A partial list of these laws are: Rabies law in which all dogs and cats must be vaccinated at 4 months of age, animal cruelty laws that include the prohibition of abandoning (“dumping’) dogs and cats or not properly caring for (feeding) animals, not allowing a dog to be chained to a fixed object for more than three hours of the day, registering dangerous dogs with animal control or Sheriff Office and acquiring $100,000 liability insurance, not allowing a dog that is known to chase/kill livestock to be at large, and ensure communities rid their “strays” only with methods prescribed by law (lethal injection or certified carbon monoxide chamber) and dumping or shooting is illegal and not one of the options. 

Animal control becomes a serious responsibility for the Sheriff’s Office in that over 16,000 dogs and cats (this figure does not include “strays”) live with families in the area of responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office.  Citizens can help in demonstrating their civic duty by reporting violations of animal control laws by calling the Sheriff’s Office at (254) 582-5313—they are employed to serve and protect and are the animal control authority for the majority of Hill County.

            Do you want to help bring needed correction to Hill County’s pet overpopulation issue?  If so, then please attend our public meeting at 6:30pm, Thursday, January 3, in the Bullock Room of Hill College Cafeteria.  Our invited speakers will be Lt. Jeff Lyons, Candidate for Hill County Sheriff, and Mr. Milton Stuckey, Candidate for County Commissioner - Precinct #3.  For more information about Hill County Paw Pals, call (254) 580-0679 or visit our website at hcpawpals.org.