Stray Animal Problem Grows In Montgomery Co.

Montgomery County Gazette

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The Montgomery County Animal Shelter has been plagued with outbreak of distemper and volunteer shortages.Google Maps

By: Jessica Shorten

CONROE, TX – The Montgomery County Animal Services (MCAS) has been plagued by several problems in recent months which has severely limited their ability to intake strays; no matter if they are friendly or aggressive.

After running on short staff and a reduced number of volunteers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montgomery County Animal Shelter took another blow when a severe outbreak of distemper racked through the shelter starting in early August. Distemper is an extremely contagious and fatal disease which can spread through cats and dogs as it attacks the central nervous, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems.

The outbreak led the Shelter to work with foster families to get healthy animals out of the shelter and paused intake of new animals. Unfortunately, the shutdown of accepting surrendered and stray animals at the shelter led to an uptick in animal drop-offs in random neighborhoods by people who simply can’t take care of them anymore.

2021 has been a particularly brutal year for the deadly virus as animal shelters not just across the State of Texas, but nationwide have battled outbreaks of distemper in their kennels. Just this week, new outbreaks of distemper have been reported from the Midland-Odessa area, to Fort Worth and Dallas, and of course, in Montgomery County.

On October 23, 2021, Animal Services resumed accepting some strays via appointment only, but there are still a lot of limitations that pet owners and people who find strays should know.

To prevent the introduction and spread of diseases such as distemper, MCAS’ website says, “We are still asking people to allow us to vaccinate the animal(s) prior to intake which helps protect the animal(s) from becoming ill,” and “We can and will assist with any supplies needed if you assist the pet in holding onto them while we get them vaccinated. This can include a kennel, food, flea prevention.”

If the problem is simply a stray animal in your neighborhood; Montgomery County residents are encouraged to make the call to MCAS to report the animal, but do not expect the animal to be picked up on the first visit if it is non-violent. MCAS will begin the process of noting the animal’s location and vaccinating the animal before actually picking up the animal to take it to the shelter if an owner is not able to be identified.

A reportee should expect MCAS to locate the stray animal, attempt to locate its owner, vaccinate it, and leave it with the reportee until the animal has received a series of three vaccinations. Then, MCAS will transport the animal to the animal shelter.

According to MCAS Director Aaron Johnson, a person is deemed an owner of an animal if, “the occupant of any premises on which a dog or cat, or other animal, remains for a period of seven (7) days, or to which it customarily returns for a period of seven (7) days, is presumed to be harboring, sheltering, or keeping the aforementioned animal.”

In order to prevent being deemed an owner of a stray animal while the animal receives vaccinations, Johnson explained a note would be made in the file documenting the stray animal and the fact the reportee was not and did not intend to become an owner.

There have been some instances in which an individual who reported a stray animal later claimed ownership of the animal, only to change their mind. In these instances, the animal is no longer deemed a stray and the individual must schedule an appointment with MCAS to surrender.

However, what if the animal is violent or exhibiting aggressive behavior? Unless the animal causes harm to a human, there isn’t much animal control can do if MCAS did not witness the incident. MCAS cannot accept pictures or videos taken by Montgomery County residents as proof the animal is aggressive, unless the animal causes property damage or injury on the reportee’s person or property.

If the animals are found to have an owner, the owner can be ticketed for allowing the animals to roam freely and a complaint can be filed with MCAS on the owner and animal. However, the majority of remedies fall to the reporting party through the legal system in the form of civil remedies if the animal causes immediate damage to property or persons.

In the meantime, MCAS asks the public to keep reporting stray animals, because these reports are monitored and help identify areas where a high number of drop-offs occur. According to Johnson, they are working together with the Precinct 2 Constable’s Office to create a plan to stop people who illegally dump animals as well as safely catch strays.

CONROE, TX – The Montgomery County Animal Services (MCAS) has been plagued by several problems in recent months which has severely limited their ability to intake strays; no matter if they are friendly or aggressive.

After running on short staff and a reduced number of volunteers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Montgomery County Animal Shelter took another blow when a severe outbreak of distemper racked through the shelter starting in early August. Distemper is an extremely contagious and fatal disease which can spread through cats and dogs as it attacks the central nervous, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems.

The outbreak led the Shelter to work with foster families to get healthy animals out of the shelter and paused intake of new animals. Unfortunately, the shutdown of accepting surrendered and stray animals at the shelter led to an uptick in animal drop-offs in random neighborhoods by people who simply can’t take care of them anymore.

2021 has been a particularly brutal year for the deadly virus as animal shelters not just across the State of Texas, but nationwide have battled outbreaks of distemper in their kennels. Just this week, new outbreaks of distemper have been reported from the Midland-Odessa area, to Fort Worth and Dallas, and of course, in Montgomery County.

On October 23, 2021, Animal Services resumed accepting some strays via appointment only, but there are still a lot of limitations that pet owners and people who find strays should know.

To prevent the introduction and spread of diseases such as distemper, MCAS’ website says, “We are still asking people to allow us to vaccinate the animal(s) prior to intake which helps protect the animal(s) from becoming ill,” and “We can and will assist with any supplies needed if you assist the pet in holding onto them while we get them vaccinated. This can include a kennel, food, flea prevention.”

If the problem is simply a stray animal in your neighborhood; Montgomery County residents are encouraged to make the call to MCAS to report the animal, but do not expect the animal to be picked up on the first visit if it is non-violent. MCAS will begin the process of noting the animal’s location and vaccinating the animal before actually picking up the animal to take it to the shelter if an owner is not able to be identified.

A reportee should expect MCAS to locate the stray animal, attempt to locate its owner, vaccinate it, and leave it with the reportee until the animal has received a series of three vaccinations. Then, MCAS will transport the animal to the animal shelter.

According to MCAS Director Aaron Johnson, a person is deemed an owner of an animal if, “the occupant of any premises on which a dog or cat, or other animal, remains for a period of seven (7) days, or to which it customarily returns for a period of seven (7) days, is presumed to be harboring, sheltering, or keeping the aforementioned animal.”

In order to prevent being deemed an owner of a stray animal while the animal receives vaccinations, Johnson explained a note would be made in the file documenting the stray animal and the fact the reportee was not and did not intend to become an owner.

There have been some instances in which an individual who reported a stray animal later claimed ownership of the animal, only to change their mind. In these instances, the animal is no longer deemed a stray and the individual must schedule an appointment with MCAS to surrender.

However, what if the animal is violent or exhibiting aggressive behavior? Unless the animal causes harm to a human, there isn’t much animal control can do if MCAS did not witness the incident. MCAS cannot accept pictures or videos taken by Montgomery County residents as proof the animal is aggressive, unless the animal causes property damage or injury on the reportee’s person or property.

If the animals are found to have an owner, the owner can be ticketed for allowing the animals to roam freely and a complaint can be filed with MCAS on the owner and animal. However, the majority of remedies fall to the reporting party through the legal system in the form of civil remedies if the animal causes immediate damage to property or persons.

In the meantime, MCAS asks the public to keep reporting stray animals, because these reports are monitored and help identify areas where a high number of drop-offs occur. According to Johnson, they are working together with the Precinct 2 Constable’s Office to create a plan to stop people who illegally dump animals as well as safely catch strays.

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The Montgomery County Gazette is an online newspaper serving the needs of the citizens of Montgomery County, Texas. While we cover news on the national and state level, we primarily focus on providing accurate and up-to-date local news and events. The Montgomery County Gazette aims to restore journalistic integrity to the media by not interpreting the news, but reporting the news. This is an added benefit to the residents of Montgomery County in delivering them news that is accurate, informative, and unbiased. Founded in 2015, the Montgomery County Gazette has grown exponentially from a simple Facebook page to this website. We are dedicated to the community because not only do we cover Montgomery County, we live here too.

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