Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas

Animal Cruelty—a Serious Criminal Offense in Texas

The following is a true story that occurred in Texas. Credit for this story goes to the Humane Society of the United States. Early one morning owners of a nine month old mixed-breed puppy, named “Loco”, opened their door to let their recently rescued puppy out into their fenced back yard. Later, when they called for “Loco” to come in, he was nowhere to be found. After four days of intense searching their emotions turned from worried to heartbroken—fearing their puppy was gone forever. However, just before dark on the forth day the owners discovered “Loco” on the front porch. They joyfully yelled “Loco!” but the puppy gave no response. It only held his head down. When the owners lifted “Loco” up for a big hug, they saw a horrific sight, and they both cried out “Oh my God: His Eyes!” At first, they thought Loco had foreign material in its closed eyes. They rushed him to their veterinarian and learned that someone had used a pen or pencil and gouged out both of its eyes resulting in permanent blindness. Somehow after this cruel deed occurred, “Loco” found his way home with his sense of smell. “Loco’s” family was devastated. At first, they considered euthanizing “Loco” but they just couldn’t do it. They elected surgery that saved the precious puppy’s life.

Once word got out about the mutilation of “Loco”, the community became outraged. Money poured in for a reward to catch the attacker(s). It was soon learned, however, that if the person was brought to justice, the penalty would have been just a slap on the wrist because loopholes existed in animal cruelty laws during this time. The community started to lobby and a law was passed making felony conviction a consequence of abusing an animal. Texas passed SB1724 on September 1, 2001 (commonly called “Loco’s Law) making animal cruelty a felony under certain circumstances punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to 2 years in jail. The law also requires that children under the age of 18 who are convicted of animal cruelty undergo counseling.

Animal abandonment in Hill County is a common occurrence and falls under the same animal cruelty category as “Loco’s Law”—a criminal offense (Penal Code 42.09). Irresponsible people who perform this vile act are simply criminals. Studies have shown a strong connection between individuals who commit acts of cruelty against animals and individuals who commit acts of violence against humans. Animal abuse is also closely linked to domestic violence. What are we teaching our children who see our community offering no regard for domestic animals? With pet overpopulation, and with no animal shelter, unwanted dogs and cats will continue to proliferate—appearing to our children as disposable creatures. We can do better. In fact, our group of citizens has raised $350,000 towards the construction of a county animal shelter. It is now up to our elected officials to prioritize “our” tax dollars towards its operational expense. The county’s pro rata share equates to less that the cost of a six-inch sub sandwich and coke (per year). Is it not time to build a much needed county animal shelter? Voice your opinion and become involved! Provide your comment about our county’s pet overpopulation issue on our new blog website: www.helphillcountyanimals.com Call or visit with your elected representative today or simply give us a call at (254) 580-0679. Your voice is important!