Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce – What It Is and Is Not
The Harris County Animal Cruelty Taskforce (Taskforce) was designed and created to make it easier for Harris County residents to report occurrences of animal neglect, cruelty or abuse. With over 50 law enforcement agencies and innumerable animal welfare organizations in the county it is difficult for people to know who to call for a given occurrence of cruelty or neglect.
Because of this people report to multiple agencies, which causes overlap and a waste of resources to help all the animals that need help. With so many agencies it also makes it difficult to gather enough data to know how large the problem actually is. Most agencies do not share their data with others and it is near impossible to go out to those that do and gather it together in an intelligent way.
The Taskforce’s primary goal is to streamline the process of where and how animal cruelty can be reported by providing a one-stop centralized way to report without having to call around to find who should take the report of abuse. There are two ways citizens can make a report: the fastest way is by visiting www.927PAWS.org and completing an online intake form which immediately goes to law enforcement, or by calling 832-927-PAWS where an operator will take the report. Law enforcement officers within the taskforce distribute the calls to the correct agency so that animals are seen more quickly and law enforcement resources are not duplicated going to calls that have already been assigned. This saves time, saves taxpayer money, and saves more animals. Law enforcement handles every call and gets it to the correct agency. The most emergent cases are taken first but all cases are addressed.
By keeping animal cruelty intervention centralized, the taskforce gathers data on every call. This will provide actionable information for government entities and prove the need that does exist. Only by proving the number of abused and neglected animals can we truly get officials to improve the budgets for our animal control and shelters along with law enforcement so that we are able to address animal welfare needs.
Further, animal cruelty laws in Texas are quite lax and hard to enforce. Because there is no centralized data on the amount of neglect or abuse it becomes difficult to persuade elected officials to act. Your reporting to the taskforce will:
- Allow us to show how large the problem is,
- Save time for law enforcement and allow more animals to be helped,
- Show officials YOU are concerned and YOU report your concerns,
- Allow us to use the data to get more animal cruelty officers,
- Allow us to use the data to get more funds devoted to animal welfare,
- Ultimately, allow us to change laws in a way that provide offenders to be punished and animals to be cared for with respect,
- Make you an active member of a group of people who truly care for the well being of animals everywhere!
Just the Beginning
Please understand that the taskforce was started with no outside funds and no increased law enforcement budgets. It will take time for us to meet all of our goals and we cannot do it without your support.
As we grow and more funds/donations become available the goal is to create a more robust website and application that allows law enforcement to communicate with one another and centrally store the results of each report. Today we cannot do that, as we have zero funding. All the efforts of the Taskforce are individuals, law enforcement and animal control and health groups, and businesses devoting their time and energy and donating needed funds to make it happen.
Some things to remember when reporting animal cruelty:
- If you are reporting an animal chained up with no shelter, food, water, etc. and you then provide the shelter, food, water, etc. before law enforcement arrives to make a report, no action can be taken by law enforcement. They need to witness the occurrence if at all possible.
- If you see an offense and tell the offender you are reporting them, many offenders simply move the animal out of sight and again, law enforcement can take no action.
Please do not re-report an occurrence you know someone has reported already unless you have personally witnessed it at the actual location.
- There are some things that we know are not right but due to laws in Texas we know law enforcement’s hands are tied. They must operate within the laws our legislators have established. (Hopefully, with your help we can change those laws in coming years.)
- “We cannot provide follow-up results on reports. Please think of this line similar to 311 or 911 where reports are made without a follow-up calls or access to updates online. Because we all care, we realize this would be ideal but again, similar to 311 and 911, the manpower and funding it would take to report back is not possible.”
- If there is a high volume of reports, officers deal with those they see as most emergent first.
- We cannot control every aspect of what happens to animals once law enforcement intervenes. We do work with a lot of rescue organizations and make them aware of at risk animals. Our goal is to save them all, but we realize that is a big task and it will take time.
We encourage you to visit www.927PAWS.org for a complete list of taskforce partner agencies and each of their roles within the taskforce.
Remember, when you make a report you make a difference in the lives of animals. Because you make a difference, together we will improve the laws in Texas over time!
Thank you for caring for the animals!