Hill County Paw Pals, Hill County, Texas

A Dog Labeled With a Number

Hello, I never was given a name during my short life but when I was picked up by animal control I was given a number.  This number didn’t make sense to me at first but I was to learn its meaning only three days later.  My story is sadly a typical one in a town or county that does not have a progressive animal control program.  My mother had a litter of six puppies and I was the only one to survive because our owners just did not care about our existence and never provided us with puppy vaccinations.  My mother later died from heartworms—which could have been prevented.  When I was nearly a year old, my human “family” moved away and abandoned me.  I was really confused because even though I didn’t receive the best of care I still loved my “family”—that’s just the way us dogs are—unconditional love for our human caretakers.  I don’t think my “family” knew that by abandoning me they committed a Class A Misdemeanor under Texas Penal Code 42.09 which carries a $4,000 fine and up to a year in jail.  My abandonment was during winter when the temperature dropped in the teens—I was cold and very miserable.  I stuck around my “home” which was vacated for nearly a week waiting for my “family” to return but the will to survive drove me into the city in search for water and food.  I was cold and weak when I was picked up by animal control.  This is when I heard that I was given a number.  When I entered the impoundment facility, I immediately became fearful because I quickly sensed death—don’t ask me how but all animals and even humans sometimes will have this sense because of our strong instinct to survive.  I was put into a small, damp and cold cage.  The cage didn’t even have space for me to walk.  I even had to defecate and urinate in the same area I laid down to rest—this was not natural because dogs like to keep their area clean.  This facility was a typical design during the period of time when “animal welfare” wasn’t even in people’s lexicon.  As I suffered in my cage, I would come to realize that this would only prove an inconvenience compared to what was going to happen to me.  I kept hoping that my “family” would come get me but for the three days I was in this cage no one came except for the animal control officer—he was gentle and nice but he kept an emotional distance from me—he was doing his professional and necessary job.  I never felt as cold in my life as the hard concrete floors soaked my body’s heat—this just aggravated my fear and loneliness.  My misfortune brought me to an impoundment facility that was unpardonable—it was a nightmare—no insulation from the cold wind or heat of the summer, dark, damp, and mostly depressing because it offered no area for an adoption program.  Near 100% of animals that are impounded in facilities without an adoption area are destined to be euthanized (polite word for kill) and disposed of in garbage bags and unceremoniously dumped in the landfill.  Again, experiencing this facility would prove only an inconvenience compared to what was going to happen to me.  I was within sight and sound of what was happening to my cage mates—this wasn’t going to happen to me—my “family” would soon rescue me.  I wish my impoundment was in an “animal shelter” that offered an adoption program (Statistically, up to 30% of pets are adopted from “animal shelters” because they are inviting to the public and offer space for an adoption center).  I wished I was in a community that was rich in proactive programs that encourage sterilization so pet overpopulation did not exist.  I wish I had not been labeled with a number.  My three day holding period was soon up…I was pulled from my cage shaking with fear…I begged for my life...I whined, “please wait! I’m adoptable! I can sit! shake hands! I can be the most loyal friend!…for God’s sake I’m adoptable!”…my pleadings went unheard…my time and space had expired…another stray dog labeled with a number greater than mine was waiting to occupy my cage.  I was given a lethal injection that soon drained the last existing warmth from my weakened body.  I fought for my breath as I made my last reach for life but my muscles were paralyzed from the foreign chemical—I gasped and quickly became a statistic of a dog that was euthanized.  My only fault was being born in a community that was far behind in its animal control program—one that offers zero progressive measures to deter pet overpopulation.  Please, don’t let my life die in vain.  Hear me now—please support Hill County Paw Pals, the group that wants to better our community by building an animal shelter with an adoption program and proactive programs to correct pet overpopulation.  They have worked for nearly two years raising an unprecedented $86K at zero cost to taxpayers to build an animal shelter in Hillsboro that offers space for an adoption center for dogs and cats.  Paw Pals is still searching for a suitable building site and working out administrative details with the City of Hillsboro before construction.  Each year, Hill County euthanizes over 1,000 dogs—most are healthy and adoptable.  This appalling figure doesn’t count the equal or greater number that are “dumped” where the majorities die a horrific death.  These numbers will only increase because of the lack of a proactive animal control program in Hillsboro and Hill County.  The sad thing is that many of us dogs didn’t have to be killed because pet overpopulation is solvable—but it will take leadership and a community wanting this positive change.  If a community can not take care of its most helpless creatures—dogs and cats, what does that say about the community? Call Paw Pals for me at (254) 580-0679 or email hcpawpals@yahoo.com and tell them you want to help bring positive change to both Hillsboro and Hill County.  Paw Pals next meeting will be Thursday, March 9 at the Performing Arts Center, Hill College from 7-8pm.  Sincerely, a dog labeled with a number that died just wanting to give and be loved.