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County animal control agency may be split from health department | News

Victoria County commissioners will consider separating the Animal Control Services Department from the Public Health Department at their meeting Monday morning because demands on animal control are increasing, County Judge Ben Zeller said.

“We want to put a greater focus on adoptions going forward,” Zeller said on Friday. “Stray cats and dogs are a big problem in Victoria and it seems to be a growing problem.”

Animal Control has been linked with the Public Health Department for decades, Zeller said, and with the demands from COVID and other issues on health, they need to be separated. The demand on staffing needs to be decreased and that could be accomplished by making Animal Control a separate entity.

pet adoptions

Scott Buchanan, field supervisor for the animal control office at Victoria Animal Control, right, offers Wiggles a tennis ball at Victoria Animal Control on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. “Wiggles is the male and Dixie is the female and they’re both around the same age,” Buchanan said. “We call him Wiggles because his butt wiggles when he’s happy.”

“It’s been a longstanding tradition,” Zeller said. “But the types of services for animal control are continuing to evolve and we better see how.”

Victoria Animal Control responds to animal complaints in the city and county. These complaints include loose dogs, loose livestock, barking dogs, animals caught in live traps, aggressive dogs, animal bites and dead animals. Under state law, all animal bites must be reported to Animal Control.

Victoria County officials want to separate Animal Control from the Public Health Department. The Animal Control Services Department would be under the direction of the Commissioners Court. Commissioners would appoint a liaison to oversee the day-to-day operations until a more structured division can be created.

Michael Atkinson, the chairman of the Victoria County Animal Control Advisory Committee, said commissioners would consider a few changes in current policy. The county would like to extend hours at Animal Control at 122 Perimeter Road in Victoria. The hours at Victoria County Animal Control will be extended to 7 pm on the first and third Wednesdays of the month, to allow families more time to see the animals available for adoption. This is not a period for taking in animals, but an effort to allow more time to see what pets are available.

In addition, a new vaccination program has been initiated solely for “intake” dogs and cats at Animal Control. The program is based on a six-month study associated with Pets Alive of Austin. The privately funded program is designed to verify the efficacy of specific vaccinations given upon arrival at Animal Control to prevent or reduce illnesses at the facility.

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Victory Animal Control

Brenda Bleier, founder of Pitty Paws Bully Rescue, adopts a dog from Victoria Animal Control in January 2020.

Animal Control will reciprocate with monthly reports to Pets Alive. The vaccinations studied are parvo, distemper and bordetella vaccinations for dogs. Feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline alicivirus and feline panleukopenia vaccinations will be provided for cats.

The new Animal Control Advisory Committee hopes that by providing the vaccinations, animals kept at the facility will be healthier.

“We need to separate the sick and diseased animals from the healthy ones,” Atkinson said.

Any new animals brought to the facility will be microchipped, so they can be tracked and the owner, if there is one, identified.

Victoria County Animal Control has promised to do better.  Hold them to that.

Disaster for humans means catastrophe for pets

A kitten rests in a litter at Victoria Animal Control. Thirty-two animals had been reclaimed since Aug. 30, 2017, after devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“We’ve seen situations where the microchip thing is a good deal,” Atkinson said. “We have a great desire to improve the adoption rate.”

Atkinson said some of the adoptions of pets were from out of state, with one dog going to Rhode Island. He said because of the harsher winters in the Northeast, weather and predators were tougher on animals in those areas.

“Peoples’ pets don’t last as long up there,” Atkinson said.

Victoria County Commissioners Court meets at 10 am Monday at the Victoria County Courthouse, 115 N. Bridge St., Room 241.

A longtime journalist, local government reporter George Coryell likes 1960s muscle cars and firearms.


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