Crisis: Dogs and Cats

By David Corning

Who says you can’t teach an old dog something new? I was appalled recently to learn of a crisis the city is in regarding unwanted cats and dogs, not to mention the county as a whole where this is concerned. I also was unaware that our city shelter will only service city residents, and that the county residents have no animal control officer and no shelter. People who live outside the city have nowhere to turn for assistance when an animal wanders up or is dumped on or near their property.

As a Winnsboro resident who moved to Texas from Michigan where there are strict laws which prevent this type of issue, I was unaware of the magnitude of the problems here in the South, especially in rural East Texas.

As an alderman for the city of Winnsboro, I am of the opinion that the issue of animal overpopulation is one that needs to be addressed immediately and resolved ASAP.

It’s a good thing that the Texas legislature recently passed the Senate Bill 5, making it unlawful to chain a dog without very specific guidelines as to what is allowable. It must be tethered with something longer than 10 feet (and not a chain) and have adequate shelter, food, and fresh water at all times. This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it does nothing to address the overpopulation issue. Obviously, euthanizing hundreds, or thousands, of dogs and cats on a daily basis statewide has an impact, but is clearly akin to closing the gate after the cow is out. Taking a preventative approach is a much more preferable and conscionable strategy.

Why doesn’t the state mandate a spay/neuter program through legislation the way the northern states do? Why doesn’t the county? If the state and county have no laws addressing this issue, then why doesn’t the city address it through an ordinance? There are requirements pertaining to rabies vaccinations and leash laws, and now it is unlawful to chain a dog outside. But it seems to me that a city and/or county spay/neuter requirement would tremendously move the needle in a positive direction.