Barrio Dogs often receives questions about what to do when encountering a dog trapped in a hot car, tied or chained up around the clock, or left outside in the heat, rain or cold, often with no food or water. All these conditions are inhumane and some may be life-threatening; in any event, we cannot ignore the situation and leave the dog to fend for itself. We also get many questions about what to do if we witness an animal being abused. To give people the best information we can, we spoke with Sgt. Virginia Brasher at the Houston Police Department (HPD) and Pct. 6 Constable Victor Trevino to determine the role that law enforcement can play in helping us assist these animals.
1. Houston Police Department: Sgt. Brasher told us that HPD officers are supposed to investigate any report of animal abuse or neglect. The best way to contact HPD is through Dispatch, who will assign the report to an officer. The officer(s) will investigate and follow up; Sgt. Brasher reviews all reports to ensure that the case was appropriately resolved.
HPD Dispatch: 713-884-3131 (do not call 911)
Sgt. Virginia Brasher: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Harris County Precinct 6 and the Houston Humane Society: Pct. 6 and the Houston Humane Society have joined forces to create the R.A.I.D.E.R. program to investigate animal cruelty and abuse. As a result, several Pct. 6 deputies are able to spend 100% of their time responding to and investigating complaints of abuse and neglect. Pct. 6 Constable Victor Trevino has assured us that his officers will respond to all complaints of animal mistreatment throughout Harris County.
Precinct 6 Dispatch: 713-923-9156 (answered 24 hours a day)
Humane Society R.A.I.D.E.R.: 713-433-6421, ext. 396
R.A.I.D.E.R. Officers: Sgt. Guerra (supervisor), Sgt. Schuelke, Deputy Bair
3. Houston SPCA: In addition to HPD, Pct. 6 and the Humane Society, the Houston SPCA has an investigations department staffed by nine full-time cruelty investigators. The Houston SPCA also provides an injured animal ambulance and rescue service 24 hours a day every day of the year. However, please know that the SPCA euthanizes most animals it takes in.
To report an injured animal in need: 713- 880-HELP
SPCA main number: 713-869-SPCA (7722)
At this point, we don’t which resource work best in a particular situation. For example, there is no time to fill out an online cruelty form if an animal is trapped in a hot car or left out in the elements. In those cases, a call to HPD or Pct. 6 is probably more appropriate. We will not know the effectiveness of any of these resources unless you let us know, so whenever you use these resources, please give us feedback. The information you provide will help us improve the list and give you the best information possible.
Also, please remember that once law enforcement authorities become involved, there are several possible outcomes for the animal. In some instances, its owners may agree to address the problem, improve its living conditions or move it to a better location. In other instances, a rescue group may step up and take in the animal. However, there is also the possibility that the animal will be confiscated and taken to a potential kill shelter. In this situation, we are at a loss as to what is better for the animal: removal because of cruelty or neglect or allowing it to suffer the entire length of its short life. If we all report it, something will happen. There is strength in numbers!