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Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force Helps Save Lives


June 5, 2019

By Natalie Cook Clark

Harris County's Animal Cruelty Task Force continues to work with citizens and organizations, with a more streamlined process, to help save local animals, and to help residents know who to call.

Photo credit: HCACTF

Giving Citizens a Clear Path to Report Animal Cruelty Crimes

In April 2017, Constable Ted Heap of Harris County precinct 5 and Houston Crime Stoppers teamed up to launch the Harris County Animal Cruelty Task Force. The task force is designed to provide a proactive and comprehensive approach to investigating human cruelty against animals. The biggest issue is educating the public about who to call when they witness such crimes. Harris County has over 50 law enforcement agencies, which makes reporting these crimes very confusing.

"Our citizens didn't know who to call when they witnessed animal cruelty," says Constable Ted Heap. "The objective was to streamline the reporting process for our citizens when they see animal cruelty, neglect, and abandonment."

How to Report

If you see or suspect animal abuse, there are two ways you can make a report.

1. The fastest way is to visit and complete an online intake form which immediately goes to law enforcement.

2. Or call 832-927-PAWS, where an operator will take the report.

Meet Marvel

Marvel had been shot in the leg and severely abused. She was found, due to the task force's efforts, abandoned on the side of the road in a trash bag.

The HCACTF works with a number of area veterinarians who assist the task force. Dr. Jennifer Hennessey Bremseth, of Animal ER of Northwest Houston, helped save Marvel. Ultimately Marvel had to lose a leg due to her injuries. But she has recovered and is now loving life at Dr. Bremseth's home with her dogs.

Marvel is just one precious pet out of hundreds of Harris County cruelty victims," says Dr. Bremseth. "The more we all can unite and actively report concerns, more animals who are silently waiting for help like she was, can be saved."

"She’s getting certified as a canine good citizen and a therapy worker for disabled facilities," says Bremseth. "She proves a bad past doesn't mean a bad dog."

The department recently dubbed dog Marvel as their mascot.

Photo credit: HCACTF Facebook Page

"Animals like Marvel are able to be saved and rescued because of diligent citizens that continue to report animal cruelty, abuse, neglect and abandonment to the task force," states the HCACTF Facebook page.

Program Success

The process is working - so far this year, the task force has investigated 1,347 reported cases. And the success of the task force is getting attention.

"We are having conversations with local counties on how they can work with us or set up their own similar task force," says Heap.

Educating Law Enforcement

Harris County is also working to train local law enforcement in animal crime recognition.

"We want officers to take notice to the situations they investigate. Often times a domestic abuse investigation doesn't stop there," says Heap. "We want officers to see if an animal lives there and if they are also being abused. Abusers seek out the weak and helpless, which describes these animals."



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