Taxpayer funded extortion in Harris County

Harris County, Texas – Randy Wallace with Fox 26 news recently reported that Harris County animal control killed a woman’s dog  even though they knew that she was on her way to retrieve her pets.  

Harris County Animal Control (HCAC) had taken Diesel, Chelsea and a puppy because someone had complained about them “running loose”.  However, when the animal control officer (ACO) showed up, the dogs were inside their fence, on their own property.   The ACO told the daughter of the dogs’ owner, Amy Kroll, that she would be fined $500 PER DOG ($1,500) because the dogs had been reported as “loose”. No one reported them as aggressive. They did not try to harm anyone. No, someone allegedly reported that her dogs had been outside of their fence, and Ms. Kroll was told that she had to pay the ACO $1,500 or he would take her pets.  

Ms. Kroll did not have $1,500.  As it happens, the dogs belonged to Ms. Kroll’s mother, Cathy Foster.  Ms. Foster has suffered some serious losses recently.  Her husband died and her house was recently destroyed in a fire, so she had been living with her daughter.  Her dogs were normally inside only dogs, but after her house burned down, they had to stay in the fenced yard temporarily.

But, instead of talking to Ms. Kroll to find out why the dogs might have been “loose”, and maybe even helping her to rectify any issue that might have allowed the dogs outside their fence, the ACO forced Ms. Kroll to relinquish the dogs—to a high kill pound.

Charging rexhorbitant fines and fees, that few people can afford; forcing people to relinquish their pets; and holding a person’s beloved pets for ransom, in a facility that kills thousands of pets every year, is the equivalent of EXTORTION.    

It should be noted that the fines/fees that Harris County employees told Ms. Foster and her family that they owed, changed a number of times over several days, and no one at HCAC could give a clear explanation of what the fees were for.

At one point, HCAC told Ms. Foster that she would have to pay an “extra” fee because the address listed on Diesel and Chelsea’s microchip was in Montgomery County (Ms. Foster’s house that burned down.)  This is insane.  People should not be charged more fees because the address on their pet’s microchip is in a different county than the pound where they were taken.   And it’s not like they even needed the microchips to contact Ms. Foster or Ms. Kroll, since the ACO took the dogs from her own front yard. 

Even HCAC’s director, Michael White, could not explain why his own employees told Ms. Foster that she would have to pay “extra” fees.  Nor could he explain why his own employees told her different amounts on multiple occasions.   

This whole thing sounds like a big SCAM.  It sounds like some Harris County employees are overcharging distraught pet owners, while holding their pets for ransom, and pocketing the excess “fees”. 

Ms. Foster and her family, did not have $1,500, $900, $700, $600 or any of the other ridiculous charges that HCAC employees claimed that she owed, so she was forced to  give the puppy to a rescue group to avoid paying HCAC’s ridiculous fine.  She told HCAC employees that they would pick up Diesel and Chelsea in 2 days when she got paid again. This time HCAC told her that she owed $200 EACH for Chelsea and Diesel.  

Even after Ms. Foster, and her family, called HCAC multiple times about her dogs; and even though she called HCAC before she left her house to pick up her dogs from HCAC; and even though Chelsea and Diesel’s kennel cards allegedly say that their owner was going to pick them up…. HCAC employees KILLED Chelsea.  

Diesel was next in line.  If Ms. Foster had arrived minutes later, HCAC would have killed Diesel too. Chelsea was the only thing that Ms. Foster had left that had belonged to her and her deceased husband.  She has lost everything else, and now this facility has killed her beloved pet.  

OwnedandLovedDogs

And over what?  What exactly did taking these pets to the pound solve?  These dogs were not dangerous.  They were beloved family pets that may, or may not, have been outside of their yard at some point in time.  If the issue was an inadequate fence, this family sure could not afford to repair it now, after paying HCAC’s ransom.  

HCAC’s actions solved absolutely nothing, other than to enrich their own employees.    

When HCAC’s director, Michael White, was made aware of this horrendous situation, one of his responses to Ms. Foster was “we can give you another dog“. Seriously? He actually thinks that giving this woman another dog will make everything OK?  
 
The fact that he thinks that a pet lover can just exchange one dog for another, like he/she is a piece of furniture, is a clear example of an extreme issue with the director of this facility.

The employees at Harris County claim that killing Chelsea was an “accident”.   But, this facility killed a horrifying 9,562 animals in 2016.  That is an average of 26 animals killed every single day of the year.
 

Considering that they are open 5 hours or less per day, that is 5+ animals killed EVERY SINGLE HOUR, of EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR.

Let’s face it, it is not really an “accident” when this facility is an assembly line of death, day in and day out.   

And this is not a “shelter” when there is very little actual sheltering going on. That facility is a revolving door of death.  Slaughterhouse would be a more accurate description.

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And to add insult to injury, HCAC was on the local news about a week ago, saying they were “overcrowded” and asking people to adopt or foster etc.   So the HC animal control officer, knew that if he took Ms. Foster’s pets to the pound, that other dogs would be killed to make room.   He knew this and yet he coerced Ms. Kroll into relinquishing her mother’s pets to the high kill pound anyway. 
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It costs money to intake pets, “shelter them”, kill them and dispose of their bodies.   The No Kill Advocacy Center estimates that it costs shelters/pounds approximately  $106 to intake, house, then kill one animal.  
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It actually costs more to kill pets than it does to save them. 
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So, in their extortion of Ms. Kroll, it actually cost HCAC (i.e.  it cost Harris Co. taxpayers) $106 to intake and kill a loved and WANTED pet.  It also cost HCAC money to intake and “shelter” Diesel and the puppy, when it was totally unnecessary.  These pets HAD homes.   The heartache that they have caused Ms. Kroll and her family is immeasurable.
 

HCAC’s director should be comprehensively implementing programs that reduce intakes.  He should be working hard to find ways to keep pets out of that high kill pound.   He should be working hard to comprehensively  implement the programs that have been proven, for years, to both decrease intakes and increase live outcomes.

He, and his employees, should not be intimidating and coercing people into relinquishing their beloved pets, especially for something as trivial as “some dogs” were reported as being loose.  Not only is this cruel, inhumane and costly, but doing so only drives up intakes and drives up the killing, as this horrific story clearly illustrates.

 
I have to wonder if Dr. White has even bothered to visit any Open Admission, No Kill shelters to find out how they ended the killing?  There are 200+ of them now, including 6 right here in Texas, including 2 entire Texas counties. http://www.Savin90.org Has White even bothered to research any of them?  
 
I’m going to guess that he has not, since he has not bothered to comprehensively implement well known, common sense, cost effective, life saving programs. Apparently, remaining in the dark ages of catch and kill sheltering is simply easier.
 

Folks, this is your taxpayer funded animal control facility.  Harris County Judge, Ed Emmett and the 4 Harris County Commissioners should be ashamed that they have allowed a county dept to function like a third world country.  These people are ultimately over this facility, and the leadership and employees working there.  Yet they have not required that their employees implement the programs and services which have ended killing all over the country.  

If you are sick and tired of the horrendously high killing at our animal “shelters”, then speak out to your elected officials.   Tell them that this issue matters to you and that you expect better from your taxpayer funded departments.  

Tell them that you will not vote for people who do not represent your values.  And if they do not represent your values, then VOTE THEM OUT OFFICE during the next election. 

Click here to SPEAK OUT for shelter pets at Harris County Animal Control.

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