Thursday, April 8, 2010
Animal Control Officer Accused of Shooting Puppy
A German Shepherd puppy belonging to a family in Galena Park, Texas (a Houston suburb) was apparently killed in February by a gunshot wound and found in a trash bin. Juan Enrique Hernandez, 40, an animal control officer for the city of Galena Park, has been accused of shooting the dog, rather than taking it to the pound. Hernandaz is free on $2,000 bond after being arraigned on April 7, 2010, charged with animal cruelty. Read the Houston Chronicle article here.
Events such as this one inflict incredible psychic damage on all animal-control divisions, even the responsible ones. I know that the administration in our Shelter continues to deal with misconceptions from the public, as well questionable tactics from its employees. Things are much, much better at our Shelter than they were, but nowhere close to perfect. The problem with abusive behavior is that it can overt, like the report above, or subversive and hard to see.
No matter what actually prompted the Galena Park incident, an animal control officer surely didn’t need to use such excessive force in order to subdue a two-month old puppy. It will be interesting to learn why this was allowed to happen.
Shooting a puppy brings to mind the horrific abuses after Hurricane Katrina when parish officers may have involved in the wholesale slaughter of pets that had been left by their desperate owners at a local school in Saint Bernard parish when their owners were evacuated. Not even scrawled notes on classroom doors pleading for help and vouching that the animals inside were “good dogs” prevented those pets from dying.
Certainly, an animal control officer’s job isn’t easy or even enviable. I also know that abuses of power occur and are often brushed aside as simply a downside of the job. Even when an animal control officer is doing the right thing—using a restraint pole to control a large, feral dog—it is often a distressing, even violent, sight. Outright stupidity, slip-shod cruelty and wanton abuse have no place in today’s shelter world.
I hope that the officer involved in the Galena Park case receives justice.