Authorities in San Jacinto County say they captured the dogs they believe are responsible for two serious dog attacks over the weekend in the Lake Run-A-Muck Subdivision in Shepherd, though two have since escaped from the county’s no-kill shelter on N. Byrd St. in Shepherd. However, the dogs responsible for attacking a jogger in the Trails End Subdivision near Cleveland on Sunday are still at large.
According to SJC Pct. 3 Constable Sam Houston, the escaped dogs are two lab mix breeds that chewed through the fence and are believed to be somewhere near the shelter. Houston and his animal control officer, Sgt. Carl Key, are attempting to recapture the animals using traps.
The two escaped dogs are being blamed for the attack on a young boy on Friday, according to Houston. The child suffered serious bite marks all over his body.
On Saturday, following the vicious attack on a 45-year-old Shepherd man in that same community, Houston and Key trapped the four pit bull mix dogs that are believed to be responsible. Two dogs were a mother dog and her pup, and two were adult male dogs. All four are being quarantined until a decision is made next Monday, Nov. 16, to determine if they will be rehabilitated or put down. The victim in that attack is being kept in a medically-induced coma while doctors reattach his ears and repair the extensive damage to his legs and arms.
For Houston, euthanizing any animal is a decision he takes to heart as he strives to operate a no-kill shelter. That’s the only option for dogs that cannot be rehabilitated, he admits.
“With problem dogs, we try to get them segregated and work with them. If we can’t get them in that direction and can’t even go in to feed them, then often we are left with no choice but to put them down,” he said. “In this particularly situation, these dogs don’t appear vicious at all while they are at the shelter, but I am going to suggest that they be put down.”
So far no one has come forward to claim the dogs, he added.
“I haven’t had anyone even make an attempt to claim them. If someone claims that they are their dogs, then they will have to go before the JP court where the judge will make a determination whether the dogs should be put down or if the owners will be required to carry insurance for dangerous dogs to get them back,” Houston said.
Animals at large a continuing problem
A person who allows their dogs to roam freely in their communities is taking on a huge risk that could result in fines and community service. The charge for having an animal at large is a Class C misdemeanor, which has no jail time but could include community service and a fine up to $500. First-time offenders, according to Houston, are often given an opportunity to volunteer at the animal shelter. Harsher penalties are given to repeat offenders.
Houston and his animal control officer, Sgt. Carl Key, oversee the operations of the county’s animal shelter, which requires seven-days-a-week care and maintenance of the animals, and upkeep on the building, pens and grounds. With Houston also responsible for serving legal papers in his precinct and following up on complaints of criminal activity, taking a day off is impossible.
“I am not trying to kick up any dust but I am just one man. I don’t just serve papers as constable. I also follow up on criminal activity and try to assist the Sgt. Key as much as I can,” Houston said. “With COVID-19, we are no longer able to get jail inmates to help with the operations of the animal shelter. I take it on because I love animals and will do my best, even at my own cost. I just wish somehow I could get a little help from the inmates and trustees at the jail.”
He hopes to work with the sheriff’s office, which oversees the jail, on a solution that works for both agencies. He is also open to having volunteers at the animal shelter.
We usually get there and work from about 8:30 to 10 a.m. seven days a week,” he said.
Animal control seizes abused horses near New Waverly
In late October, three horses were seized by Houston and Key, working with Houston SPCA, at a property on FM 2693 and Jackson Road in New Waverly.
“The owner surrendered the horses to the SPCA. The story we were told is that the owners had someone who was supposed to be feeding the horses and he wasn’t doing his job, so that is why they ended up in bad shape,” Houston said.
The horses were malnourished and one had a bad injury to its face.
“The owner isn’t trying to get them back. At this point he isn’t facing any charges but it’s still under investigation,” the constable said.
The horses are expected to recover and are being rehabilitated by Houston SPCA.