Update: New Tools To Report Animal Abuse In Harris County

Sep. 16, 2014Houston Public Media

Rainey the poodle is getting lots of affection during her visit to the D.A.’s office.

But life for the little dog wasn’t always so good. Rainey was in such bad shape when she was rescued that she wound up losing a leg.

She wears a brace on another leg. Her previous owner is now facing animal abuse charges.

Alex Samuelson learned about Rainey’s plight online and knew right away he could give her a home.

“We’d been through a lot with a previous dog and knew that she was probably going to have some issues later in life that we could provide for, and that’s why we decided it was good to bring her into our house.”

Rainey is now thriving, and Samuelson says she doesn’t let her disabilities get in the way.

“She extremely fast, she loves to fetch, she swims, she does everything.”

But not every animal’s story has such a happy ending. It’s estimated that Harris County has over one million homeless dogs and cats.

Animal rescue groups have focused much of their efforts on northeast Houston and the area along U.S. 59 known as the “Corridor of Cruelty” where many dogs have been found dead or abused.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson says the abuse has to stop and her office is now launching two new efforts.

One is an online resource where people can report suspected cases.

“We cannot prosecute what we don’t know about. So we’re asking you, if you see an animal being starved or abused, please report it on our website.”

Anderson says they’re also going a step further, to try to prevent the problem before it even starts. And that’s by reaching out to kids.

Harris County prosecutor Jessica Milligan is heading up theHOPE program, short for “Helping Our Pets Through Education.”

Milligan is the owner of a rescue dog herself, a Border Collie who was found shot and burned. She says the problem is that animal abusers lack empathy, something they didn’t learn when they were young.

“So if you don’t have someone who drags you by the hand and teaches you that there’s value to an animal and that they deserve to be part of your family, you’re going to learn it through your community, through your friends, and whatever’s going on in your own home.”

The DA’s office is currently seeking educators who want to take part in the program.