This article originally appeared in the Friday June 28, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.
The Rio Grande Valley is in dire straits. It is in this current occasion of heat advisories and scorching weather that media rescue groups, and pages all across social media involving pets and animals, have come into a surplus of posts exposing negligent pet owners and the consequences of their cruelty. More often than not, the outcome usually ending with death.
This is an occurrence seen year-round, but the recent days of scorching temperatures coupled with numerous cases of pet deaths due to dehydrations is the “last straw”. Something must be done- a light must finally shine on an issue that is scarcely publicly illuminated, yet a t the core of reoccurring animal abuse cases: the Rio Grande Valley is collectively and individually under the jurisdiction of police and sheriff departments who DO NOT enforce animal cruelty laws (such as those listed under “Texas Penal Code- PENAL § 42.0921:Cruelty to Non-Livestock Animals” and “Texas Penal Code- PENAL § 42.09: Cruelty to Livestock Animals”).
Time and time again, year after year, concerned strangers, pet owners, rescue volunteers, fellow “animal lovers”, and I have come together on social media rescue groups, pet groups, and “lost and found” groups, to report photos and descriptions of pets and animals in need due to their owners violating one or more of the (sub) sections of the aforementioned Texas Penal Code. We have been forced to desperately seek advice from each other in our online community of concerned and caring citizens when animal cruelty cases have been reported to law enforcement and are denied a proper investigation or any attention at all. We are told that “nothing can be done” by dispatchers, and made to feel discouraged or as though we have been failed, in turn failing the lives we’ve tried to help and save. Our sense of hope is ignited if our reports end with “we will send an officer” or “a sheriff will be informed”, only to be extinguished when we discover nothing has been done and the situations go unchanged. We are rendered helpless and despondent when those we are supposed to depend on- in morals and in law- do not fulfill the duties of their occupation and do not seriously enforce animal abuse laws as they would any other law. How are we to have hope in law enforcement authority after repeated disappointments? How can we, as citizens, take law enforcement efforts seriously, or give officers and sheriffs our trust and respect, if they choose to enforce only SOME laws, but not ALL laws? Who are we, then, to seek for assistance? Without enforcement, there is no structure in our societies; without structure, there is no progress or change.
We are rescuers, fosters, shelter employees, volunteers, veterinary technicians, ordinary pet owners, and animal lovers, but above all we are citizens who are asking for change in the solemnity and proper enforcement of animal cruelty laws. We call upon all police officers and sheriffs (of every city and county in the Rio Grande Valley) to think of “Justice”, both the term and the emaciated severely neglected dog who received his own rescue and justice ONLY after his condition went viral on social media and in the local news. (The news media should not be seen as our desperate last resort for action, nor have to be called and become involved to ensure that justice will be served in cases the police and sheriff departments purposefully ignore and dismiss. We should NOT have to resort to shaming law enforcement into doing their duties by reporting these cases to the local news!) We call upon all police chiefs and district attorneys of all Rio Grande Valley cities and counties to ensure that animal cruelty reports will be responded to and received proper investigations and their corresponding repercussions: District Attorney Luis V. Saenz (Cameron), District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. (Hidalgo), District Attorney Omar Escobar Jr. (Starr), and District Attorney Hon. Annette C. Hinojosa (Willacy).
In closing, we hope the next time we call and report an animal in need, we get a response from law enforcement, to arrive on the scene, investigate, and to act accordingly- no more neglect! No more condescension and arrogant behavior towards us because they “don’t care”. N more lying in follow ups by saying they fully investigated, when we know quite well that no officer arrived on the scene) because we were there waiting for them)- it is shameful and an unethical disgrace! We demand action from those who have the authority to do something! We are (and must continue to be) the voices of those who cannot speak. We are a community that continues to hope for a brighter future in animal welfare, and it’s time our law enforcement acknowledges their reoccurring lack of duty, lack of concern, and begins to IMPROVE. We demand BETTER from our law enforcement! Enough is enough.
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