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Do One Thing: Port Lavaca Edition

On Saturday December 7, the high in Port Lavaca, TX was 35 degrees Fahrenheit. The police department runs the pound and houses dogs outdoors in a covered facility. Each kennel has 3 short cement walls and wire fencing at the front.

[Port Lavaca police chief James Martinez] said animal control does not have any policies regarding when a dog should be given a blanket. It is up to the discretion of the animal control officer.

But the law appears to dictate specific guidelines:

Under the general guidelines of the Texas Administrative Code for facilities quarantining or impounding animals, facilities are required to protect animals from inclement weather.

The code states: “Auxiliary heat or clean, dry bedding material shall be provided any time the ambient temperature falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit when animals are present.”

When animal activist Carley Stringo learned that the dogs in the outdoor facility would not be provided with bedding on the night of December 7, she burst into tears. Then she took action by calling two friends to stand with her in protest outside the pound.

She told fellow protester Rose Farmer, 20, of Port Lavaca, “If I have to stand out there all night long, I will.”

The women stood outside the facility from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., she said. During that time, they recruited friends to call the Port Lavaca Police Department, city manager and mayor.

At 8 p.m., two police officers arrived with Port Lavaca Animal Control Officer Donnie McGrew, Stringo said.

The police chief says the dogs were given blankets before the officers left. But I guess he didn’t want to seem like a pushover for following the law just because some animal activists demanded he do his job:

He said the need for blankets will remain at the discretion of the animal control officer.

So there. But wait – there’s more from those meddling kids:

That night, protesters formed the group Calhoun Citizens Against Animal Cruelty. The group plans to take its grievances against Port Lavaca Animal Control to the City Council during the January meeting.

Stringo said the group is trying to get placed on the meeting agenda.

“We’re pushing that they enforce the laws that are already set,” Stringo said. “The laws are there. From what I’m getting, nobody is enforcing them.”

You go girl.

Not only does it appear that the Port Lavaca police department is thumbing its nose at the law and failing to do its job, the police chief seems to be holding the pound to an absurd level of accountability, telling the local paper:

“The animals there have better protection than animals in someone’s back yard[.]”

Texas Administrative Code says nothing about an animal control officer using personal discretion to determine when a pet should be protected from inclement weather.  Nor does it say that a pound must provide better protection that “someone’s” back yard.  Who is Someone and how well protected is his yard dog from inclement weather?  Does Someone let his dog into the laundry room on cold nights?  Does Someone provide a source of heat or dry bedding for his dog when the temperature is below 50?  If the police chief can’t answer these questions, and obviously he can’t – because  farcical – he has no right using this as a basis to determine standards of care.

Do your job and uphold the law, Port Lavaca PD.

And as for you meddling kids who had the courage to do one thing:  Give ’em hell.

(Thanks Clarice for the link.)

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