Do You Know Who Is At Your Door?

Shannon Mac Houston Crime Stoppers

As the numbers of seniors increase in population, we see ads for independent living communities:

  • Enjoy a Resort-Like Living Environment
  • Graciousness and Hospitality Throughout Each Day in a Warm, Residential Environment
  • Fine Restaurant-type Dining
  • Carefree Lifestyle Tailored to Your Needs

Who wouldn’t want this for a residence?

Unfortunately, one important feature is not mentioned: security. This oversight gave a murderer access to over a dozen women in four different independent living establishments in Collin and Dallas Counties, from April 2016 to his eventual arrest in March 2018. He posed as a maintenance worker and unsuspecting residents opened their door to him believing they were safe in their apartment at their establishment.

As we learned our loved ones had been murdered, we became aware how this predator gained access to the vulnerable. On a recent tour of an independent living establishment, assurances were made that garage entry was secure with the gate down, unless residents entered, or a staff member was monitoring the open gate. Sure enough, the gate was up, entry into the garage was easily accessible and there was no staff in sight. In those instances, residents should be advised not to open their door unless they know who is on the other side.

We vowed no other families should have our experience, and we are now dedicated to improving transparency and accountability in the profit-making senior living industry. We founded Secure Our Seniors’ Safety (SOSS) in July 2019, and our first goal is to pass legislation to improve senior security at residential establishments:

  • Visitors register when entering establishments
  • Background checks of workers
  • Residents made aware of criminal activity at properties
  • Law enforcement given access to residents when investigating crime

We believe it is time to care for those who cared for us. We will return to Austin for the 88th Legislative session with bills to improve senior security. We ask you to support our efforts.

www.secureourseniorssafety.org

As Expected: The Politicization of Crime Targets Crime Stoppers of Houston. Our Response.

dreamstime l 9069207 A Message from Crime Stoppers scaled Houston Crime Stoppers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 23, 2022

On Thursday, April 21, 2022, Crime Stoppers of Houston (CSoH) CEO welcomed Senator John Cornyn (R) and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D) to the Dave Ward Crime Stoppers of Houston building to address bipartisan efforts that seek to prevent and respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking against women and hear more of these efforts to protect our citizens. But during that meeting, CSoH was bombarded by multiple coordinated stories rooted in partisan noise.

For Over 40 Years

Let’s begin with the basic fact that for over 40 years, CSoH has stayed true to its mission to solve and prevent crime in partnership with citizens, media and the criminal justice system. During this time, we have studied crime trends and issues, identifying points of concern for the community, listened to the cries of victims and worked hard to offer solutions. We have never deviated from the mission and have, and continue to build solutions with and for all.

The Politicization of Crime

Sadly, community safety is no longer a common goal. We are in election year and a season where crime and “public safety” are now “political.” The goal of this new political machine is not to heed the concerns of the community, but to target anyone in its way. And it’s safe to say, for some, we have gotten in the “way”.

We saw signs of this last September when a series of papers and organizations started “investigating” CSoH. Individuals including several elected officials strategically began labeling CSoH as “partisan” and sharing negative pieces. We understood all this to be part of a bigger effort to discredit our organization and the voice of victims. We anticipated more would come.

Soon thereafter, we learned The Houston Chronicle, The New York Times, and The Marshall Project (whose avowed goal is to “abolish all prisons” https://www.themarshallproject.org/records/4766-prison-abolition) were all writing stories on CSoH at the same time. We knew where this was going and questioned where this was coming from but still worked for an honest representation.

We openly provided answers, upon answers to all. In addition to all the documentation that is public, we provided unfiltered access to our history, financials, full programing and programing statistics. Additionally, the CSoH CEO, Deputy Director, Direct of Communications, Bookkeeper, Chairman of the Board, Executive Committee Board Members and others took time to answer questions. Sadly, regardless of information provided – the authors (particularly with the NYT) either ignored or manipulated what was given. Comments from our Chairman and current board members were passed upon for statements from former board members. For those reasons and many others, it became clear early on, the authors had a predetermined conclusion and would write only what suited that conclusion.

While all of this proved to be a tremendous waste of valuable time for the CSoH team and community – and even now does not deserve our attention, we are providing comment for the sake of the thousands of victims, families, schools, neighborhoods, volunteers, donors and partners we serve.

Funding.

  • CSoH works with all and is funded by individuals, events, corporations, foundations, and government grants. The authors draw particular attention to the fact that CSoH received funds from the State of Texas (intentionally naming Governor Abbott). The truth is any funds that have been received by the State of Texas have been approved by both the House and Senate, made up of Democrats and Republicans in the state legislature. To say these gifts were “partisan” or tied to “partisan agreements” at the direction of one singular person, is false and misleading and only gains merit with those unfamiliar with the process.
  • To date, CSoH received $4 million in State funding in 2017 thanks to a recommendation by Senator John Whitmire (D) who recognized how much the organization was doing for the community and observed that we had not gone to the State for funding before.
  • We continue to receive funding to train all CS organizations across Texas in school safety. That funding is for work CSoH provides beyond and in addition to the services relied on by many in Harris County. Said another way: should that additional State funding stop, CSoH’s work in the Harris County area would remain untouched.
  • Additionally, the Harris County District Attorney’s office has been supporting CSoH for decades – naming this current gift as anything partisan – is false.
  • Beyond the Harris County District Attorney’ office, support (i.e. supplemental rewards, program funding and in-kind gifts) for CSoH has also come from the Mayor, local police departments, Harris County Commissioners and a long list of other partners.
  • The authors of these latest pieces overlooked all the bipartisan support and work CSoH does and instead chose to cherry pick and misrepresent two gifts, solely in an effort to create a partisan and false narrative. This goes beyond sloppy reporting. It’s dishonest, manipulative and purpose driven.

Judges.

  • CSoH has received “probationary fees” since our inception in 1980s. Those placed on probation in Harris County may be ordered by a judge to pay a $50 fee to CSoH. Those fees, once received, are restricted to the CSoH Tip Rewards Program. That revenue makes up a small percentage of our overall budget. Those funds are not relied upon for organizational growth, staffing or staff recruitment or additional program development. To claim that we would find ourselves in distress should probationary fees decrease, is false – and we made that clear multiple times.
  • Over nearly a decade, probationary fees to CSoH have trended down as the number of nonprofits a judge could give to has increased. The loss in fees, dating years now and including judges on both sides of the aisle, has not strained our relationship with the judiciary. Naturally fees declined in 2020 since for most of the year cases were not disposed of due to the pandemic.
  • In 2019 – CSoH made the claim that the revolving door of criminal justice, specifically, the repeated releasing of violent felony defendants – was (and is) leading to an increase in violent crime. In order for CSoH to share this, court cases in which violent felony defendants are repeatedly released into the community – were and are highlighted. As citizens, we are allowed to look at outcomes that contribute to crime and we have been – as our mission would dictate. Through this process, CSoH remains committed to focusing on the cases, the victims and the impact – not the judges. In doing so, we have highlighted over 170 individuals who have been killed because of this revolving door. Despite all the facts provided and the very real crime wave Harris County is suffering, the authors singular focus was on the political party of the judges. For the record with the exception of one Judge recently appointed, the entire judiciary is Democrat.  It’s shameful and another example of the coordinated effort to fit an agenda.
  • Andy Kahan and Fox26 communicate these violent felony defendant cases through “Breaking Bond”. The authors tried to claim that Andy and Fox26’s Randy Wallace pick cases based on a judge’s giving of probationary fees. This is false as we stated in no uncertain terms. Cases are pulled based on the gravity of the case and victim. Additionally, neither Andy Kahan nor Randy Wallace have access to the probationary fees given to CSoH, nor have they ever requested to see it – all of which we made emphatically clear and all of which was ignored by the authors.


Rising Above the Noise

During a time when crime is out of control and public safety remains the number one issue for Houstonians and victims – the New York Times, the Marshall Project and The Houston Chronicle ignored the plight of those suffering to instead coordinate attacks against the organization and its CEO and staff as they tirelessly work for the safety of all.

While we look forward to working with all media now and in the future, our community would very much like The New York Times to worry about crime in New York. Houstonians will take care of crime in Houston. And as we continue working, we are thankful for those currently willing to rise above the noise and work together for the safety of all.


Sharing the support of our full community creates insurmountable holes in the claim that we are a partisan.  Here are supportive comments on CSoH from some of our most prominent leaders: 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D) – who has a long-standing relationship working with CSoH to keep the community safe and who also joins us in our efforts to find wanted suspects. The Congresswoman recently said: “For decades, I’ve served communities in need and have always advocated for the safety of all. Crime Stoppers of Houston has been a long-time partner and ally in these efforts. Together, we listen, show up and stand up for all. I’m thankful for their 40 plus years of service and look forward to all that is ahead.”

Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) – who continually works with CSoH to support victim families in Houston by finding wanted suspects; Mayor Turner included CSoH in his One Safe Houston Plan.  He recently said “As Mayor, I am committed to the safety of all Houstonians and offer unwavering support for police, fire, and other first responders. Crime Stoppers is our partner in public safety. I commend the organization on its tireless work on behalf of victims, support of law enforcement and congratulate them for a job well done.”

Senator John Whitmire (D) – who inspired us to seek our first State grant and has worked with us on multiple public safety issues. He recently said:

“For over 40 years, I’ve been working to keep the people of Houston and Texas, safe. Having community engagement and partnership in Crime Stoppers of Houston through the nuances of criminal justice and criminal justice reform has been a support to me in my service as well as to all Houstonians who care about public safety. During this unique time, we look forward to doing more together.”

Chief Troy Finner (HPD Chief of Police) – who is one of the leading partners of Crime Stoppers of Houston recently said:

“As a native Houstonian and your Houston Police Chief, I stand proud to support Crime Stoppers of Houston. For over forty years, this group of civilians has worked to bridge gaps between communities and police – doing what it can to curb crime proactively while working with HPD and other law enforcement agencies to stop felony crime in its tracks. Any city is lucky to have an active Crime Stoppers. We are uniquely proud to host the largest in the country and look forward to doing more good, together.”

To read more endorsements go:  https://crime-stoppers.org/standingforpublicsafety

Quotes in support of our findings that the repeated release of violent felony suspects is causing an increase in crime: 

  • Crime is up ladies and gentleman and it’s associated with bail—Kim Ogg DA to the Senate Criminal Jurisprudence Committee: March 18th, 2021
  • The below statements are taken from a report by the District Attorney to Harris County Commissioners Court September 2, 2021 Ogg: Our findings show re-offending by criminal defendants who have been released on bail is up. Bond failures by bond condition violation reports are up. Violent offenses committed by defendants released on bail is up. Bail reform has not been confined to misdemeanors, but has been implemented, in practice for felony defendants at every level, even repeat violent offenders charged with some of Harris County’s most notorious and deadly crimes, including, but not limited to murders and capital murders. Bail reform as practiced in some Harris County District Courts, will continue to be a driving factor in the crime crisis gripping our community.
  • Sheriff Ed Gonzalez Interview Fox News January 26th, 2021: “It’s inexcusable cutting lose dangerous repeat offenders on Bond”
  • Mayor Turner Press Conference July 2nd 2021: “It needs to stop, we should not count on ankle monitors to track violent criminals. Let me also acknowledge that any person who is out for example on 7 felony bonds is unacceptable, And there’s no real justification for anyone to be out on 5,6,7 felony bonds. So let me just say that it needs to come to a stop. We’re all in this together”. Mayor Turner is discussing the murder of 24-year-old Mother Layla Steele and the shooting of her 1-year-old son by a habitual repeat violent offender on 7 felony bonds
  • Senator Joan Huffman: “As a former prosecutor and criminal District Court Judge, it is absolutely appalling to see the release of habitual and violent offenders on small, and sometimes multiple bonds-we have failed our communities, we have failed the victims and it’s time to do something about it”: Fox New July 11th, 2021
  • Constable Sherman Eagleton talking about the murder of 11-year-old Darius Dugas allegedly by a defendant on multiple felony bonds and who had violated his ankle monitor conditions repeatedly: “If the offender would have been in jail where he’s supposed to be, that baby would probably still be here”: Houston Chronicle March 27th, 2022
  • Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo new crime prevention plan unveiled several months ago by two press conferences stated her objective is to prioritize the arrests of repeat violent offenders in the communities. “By increasing policing in those areas, by working to take repeat, violent offenders off the streets in the targeted micro zones, we will be able to make a dent in our regions crime rate”: Houston Chronicle December 1st, 2021
  • HPD Chief Troy Finner KPRC January 28th, 2022: “These violent individuals, I’m damn tired of it. We need to stand up as a community and do whatever we got to do. If that is to have more jail capacity. let’s get it done. No more excuses”
  • Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo Houston Chronicle April 14, 2022: “And the truth is, too many people who should be behind bars are out reoffending”
  • HPD Executive Assistant Chief Larry Satterwhite Houston Chronicle July 20th, 2021: “The problem is the criminal court backlog, and it has allowed sadly a lot of people who should not be on the streets to still be out there, people who are preying on the innocent”

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Letter from Justin Vickrey, Chairman, Crime Stoppers of Houston

The current climate that allows for repeat violent felony offenders to be considered victims of the criminal justice system and the people whom they hurt or kill (the true victims in these horrible acts) to be completely disregarded is a travesty that must stop. In the words of our victim services director for Crime Stoppers of Houston (CSoH), Andy Kahan, “Crime victims are the only unwilling participants in the criminal justice system.” Truer words have never been said, Andy.

On Thursday, three articles attacking Crime Stoppers dropped within hours of each other. One from the New York Times and two from the Houston Chronicle. They should have covered their tracks better, as it was nothing short of a coordinated media hit to try and get us to stop talking about crime in our community and the excruciating number of victims left in its wake. The victims and victim families we support and citizens we strive so hard to protect come from all socioeconomic walks of life. These violent offenders don’t care whether their victims vote Democrat or Republican. They are indiscriminate of who they target and anyone can be a victim of crime at any moment. So why is wanting to keep repeat violent felony offenders that pose a threat to our community off our streets seen as a “right wing” ideology?

I talked to David Farenthold with the NYT for nearly 25 minutes, patiently answering nearly all of his questions. Rania, Nichole, Mimi, Tania, Cabell, and the rest of our CSoH team spent hours upon hours of sending David detailed answers to every single question and follow up question he had. He didn’t use any of it. Nothing. Why? Because our responses didn’t fit the narrative he had already formed before ever starting to write the article. His co-author, Keri Blakinger, is a writer for the Marshall Project. What do they believe is one of the solutions to our criminal justice system? To abolish prisons (https://www.themarshallproject.org/records/4766-prison-abolition). Sounds totally sane, right? No bias whatsoever.

The politicization of crime is nothing short of sickening. In full disclosure, I have been a member of CSoH’s board of directors since 2016, served on our executive committee since 2017, and have been chairman of the board since January 2021. I remember our board meeting in 2019 when we discussed felony bond reform for the first time and the dangers it posed. We publicly supported misdemeanor bond reform, but chose to be vocal and make a public stand against the continued release of repeat violent felony offenders.

Looking back three years later, I am proud of the decision our board made, but incredibly sad how many families have needlessly endured the loss of their loved ones. I believe Andy has tracked 170 people in Harris County who were murdered by people who were out on multiple violent felony bonds since 2019. They should all be with us today if the judges didn’t allow personal recognizance (free) or very low bonds to these violent offenders and the bail bondsmen didn’t accept payments as low as 2% or payment plans for their release rather than the standard 10%. This means on a $25,000 bond, some repeat violent felony offenders may pay as little as $500 to get out of jail. Not a very high bar to keep our community safe.

CSoH’s mission is to solve and prevent serious crime in the Greater Houston Area in partnership with citizens, media, and the criminal justice system. While CSoH’s claim to fame is the tip line anchorman Dave Ward professed for decades, our Safe School Institute, Safe Community programs, and research center have added immeasurably valuable help to our community and throughout the state of Texas. We have reached more than 1.2M students throughout Texas with vital information regarding online safety, bullying, dating violence, and a host of other important topics that are age appropriate.

The defamation contained in these articles is incredibly haphazard. What they neglect to mention about the money they claim we received from Governor Abbott is that it did not come from him directly, but was voted on by both sides of the Texas House and Senate in 2017 and passed unanimously without a single no vote. The money we have received from the state since has been strictly for the use of expanding our Safe School Institute throughout Texas after the Santa Fe school shooting in 2018.

Again, it was not until 2019 that we were made aware of the judges applying the misdemeanor bail reform to repeat violent felony offenders. To believe we only became vocal after we received money from the state two years prior to the problem ever revealing itself is wrong. To believe Andy’s and Fox26’s work on the Breaking Bond series highlighting the most egregious crimes that continues to bring awareness to shortcomings from the judges is done for nefarious purposes is disingenuous. All but one court has been highlighted on the segments and they’re all Democrat judges. Yes, the revenue we receive from the courts is down significantly from where it was several years ago, but what they don’t clearly state is how small of a percentage of our revenue it makes up, how our organization has grown beyond the tip line, or how many other organizations were added to the pool of options each judge can designate for the $50 probationary fee.

In regards to the building, like many non-profits who build their own office, we were blessed in raising half of what was needed in short order so we could start construction and borrowed the other half with a low interest loan from a local foundation. To claim we started “targeting” the judges due to the reduction in court revenue and the building put us in dire financial straits is absolutely defamatory. We were able to pay the note off thanks to so many of our wonderful supporters and we’re blessed to have a space that serves our diverse community.

Attacking Rania on a personal level (Chronicle) and bashing DA Kim Ogg for being a tough on crime “conservative Democrat” District Attorney is reprehensible. I have personally worked with Rania for many years now and am continually impressed by her leadership, dedication, and never-ending work-ethic. Day and night, weekday and weekend, she is there. She’s also sought to guide us through this current climate with grace and a commitment to the mission. As for DA Ogg, we are thankful for her years of support and prior leadership of CSoH.  I am proud of our team at Crime Stoppers, the great work that we do, and incredibly thankful for the support we have received for years and continue to receive from most of our local, state, and federally elected officials across both sides of the political aisle.

There is much work to be done and there is far too much to lose if we stop now. Like many of you, Houston is my hometown and it concerns me deeply what our great city and region will look like for our children in the decades to come. If we do not have a fundamental course correction in how the criminal justice system puts the concerns of repeat violent felony offenders above the protection and safety of victims and our citizens, God help us all.

– Justin Vickrey, Chairman, Crime Stoppers of Houston

 

The Politicization of Crime: 4/1/22

dreamstime l 9069207 A Message from Crime Stoppers scaled Houston Crime Stoppers

As crime continues to be politicized, sadly Crime Stoppers is becoming a target. While none of this will deter us from being a voice for victims, when possible, we will share the attacks and our response. Read more below:

In 2019, Crime Stoppers of Houston began noticing a trend in which many of the defendants charged with murder were released on multiple felony bonds, person recognizance (PR) bonds, motion to revoke bond denied and bond forfeiture.

Since then, we have compiled a list of victims killed/murdered by defendants that had been released on the above at the time of their death.  Sadly, this list has grown to over 160 men, women and children who have lost their lives at the hands defendants that have shown time and time again that they are a direct threat to our community.  We are not talking about low level felony case or misdemeanor case or even drug related case.  We are talking about violent felonies as defined by the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting of 2019 that includes murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forceable rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults. All of which are arguably the most feared types of victimization in our society.

Crime Stoppers of Houston has consistently stated this as a crime crisis and public safety issue.  Unfortunately, there are forces in Harris County that have decided to make this a political issue and sought to discredit Crime Stoppers in the process.

The Texas Center for Justice & Equity issued a report claiming that Crime Stoppers is contributing to misinformation, false narratives, and bias in the media.  An important reminder that needs to be made is that Crime Stoppers only speaks to the media when asked.  This article seems to take issue with any organization that provides information regarding unadjudicated cases pointing to law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, and Crime Stoppers.  We wonder who would be deemed by this organization to be a qualified speaker on the topic if not law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, and Crime Stoppers.  Below is a list of this report’s misinformation and false narratives regarding Crime Stoppers of Houston:

  • Crime Stoppers lacks oversight and public accountability. This is a glaringly false claim.  Crime Stoppers has a board of directors and is required to provide annual reports to the Governor’s Office of Criminal Justice Division.  Any false claims made by Crime Stoppers would make the organization subject to litigation.  Therefore, great care is taken to ensure that only clear and accurate information is released on all media platforms. 
  • Crime Stoppers “is financially incentivized to generate fear of crime, as the organization has a financial stake in churning people through the criminal legal system.” It states that Crime Stoppers receives .2427 percent of all court costs collected from convicted criminal defendants in addition to the payments and/or repayments received from convicted defendants on community supervision to pay rewards. The percentage referred to goes to a Crime Stoppers Assistance Fund that CJD uses to provide grants to Crime Stoppers sites.  Crime Stoppers of Houston does not receive any of these grant funds.  Crime Stoppers of Houston only receives the one-time payment of up to $50 from convicted defendants on community supervision.  We do not seek re-payment of rewards from convicted defendants.
  • In 2019, Crime Stoppers Houston reported a revenue of $114,616 from “court rewards” and $30,427 from “court administrative funds.” In 2020, these revenue streams dropped to $63,494 and $15,923 respectively. The “court administrative funds” referenced are not in addition to the “court rewards”.  It is a percentage of the “court rewards” that a Crime Stoppers site can use for tip line operations such as phone lines, after hour call center, and tip management software.  In 2019, that amount was 1% of all revenue.  In 2020, that amount was .4% of all revenue.
  • The report states, “The messaging from Crime Stoppers and the police union aligns with that of with District Attorney Kim Ogg (who served as Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston from 1997-2006) and her office, which has been clearly and consistently against pretrial release”. Crime Stoppers of Houston has never been opposed to pretrial release for non-violent or misdemeanor offenses. The only cases that Crime Stoppers of Houston has voiced opposition to pretrial release was for violent offenders that have multiple unrelated violent charges.
  • The report cites information from a blog “Why we’re no longer naming suspects in minor crime stories”.  We find it interesting that this report seemingly targets Crime Stoppers for focusing on the bond issue related to minor crimes. However, Crime Stoppers has consistently discussed this issue as it relates to violent felony cases.  
  • The report states “Bond reform was meant to protect the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. The misdemeanor bond reforms implemented in Harris County aimed to correct the unconstitutional, wealth-based discrimination inherent in the monetary bond system.” Crime Stoppers of Houston supports the constitutional rights of criminal defendants. Our issue has been with what appears to be the implementation of the misdemeanor reform in violent felony cases.  We would like to see a scenario where a judge can use discretion, utilize risk assessments, and factor in a defendant’s previous convictions when determining bond for violent cases.  The TJCE’s March 2017 report “Pretrial Practices in Texas” supports risk assessments and sites they are a valuable tool and “is fairer for defendants”. 
  • The report states “In covering bond reform, the media frequently cherry-pick extreme stories in order to link bond reform to bad outcomes.” Their case study on the Caitlynne Guajardo case states, “In consistently referring to accused defendants as “criminals,” this article conflates arrest with guilt.  The suspect, Caitlynne’s estranged husband, confessed to stabbing her and intentionally stabbing her in the stomach to kill their unborn child.  In another case study, the Rosalie Cook case, the report states,
    “Describing defendants as “criminals” conceals the reality that they have not been convicted of a crime, and it promotes the idea that legally innocent people deserve pretrial punishment.” It further takes issue with the term habitual, or career criminal and the suspect Randy Lewis’ rap sheet was cited in an article without clarification if they were convicted or not.”  According to court records, Randy Lewis had been convicted of more than 50 different criminal offenses. 

Animal Cruelty Prevention

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According to the ASPCA an animal is abused every 60 seconds. The Humane Society of the United States reports that most cases of animal abuse go undetected. Animal cruelty takes many forms, from neglecting to provide clean water, food and veterinary care to severe beatings and other physical attacks. It is hard to believe that animal abuse is still a serious problem in modern society. It is horrible to think about, but the results of ignoring animal cruelty are even more devastating.

Animal cruelty is often committed by a person who feels powerless, unnoticed or under the control of others. The motive may be to shock, threaten, intimidate or offend others or to demonstrate rejection of society’s rules. Some who are cruel to animals copy acts they have seen or that have been done to them. Others see harming an animal as a safe way to get revenge against someone who cares about that animal which is why animals are protected in restraining orders.

Preventing animal cruelty is in the best interests of a community, as well as, important for public health. Studies have shown that cruelty to animals is a sign that other abuse is taking place in the home. Animal abuse is clearly linked to other violent crimes, such as domestic violence, assault and sex crimes. Those same studies show that children who witness animal abuse are at a greater risk of becoming animal abusers themselves.

We can break this cycle through education and prevention. The best way to fight cruelty is to teach as many people as possible about how their pets should be treated and what they should never ever do. Parents and educators should teach children how to safely and humanely interact with animals at an early age, as well as, how they can tell if an animal is being harmed and what to do about it.

Animal cruelty includes intentional, malicious acts of harm and neglect. Unfortunately, unless you witness something happening, it’s not always clear when something constitutes neglect. Most people don’t go so far as to actually lay hands on their animals to hurt them but instead, they neglect the needs of their animals. Signs of neglect include injuries or illnesses that linger untreated, poor living conditions (including filth and dangerous objects near the animal and it being left outside in bad weather), bones being visible through the skin, and extremely poor grooming.

So what do you do if you notice an animal that appears to be suffering from one or more of these issues? Call your local animal welfare agency immediately. In most areas, someone from the local animal control agency, humane organization, or animal shelter will be responsible for investigating and enforcing the local anti-cruelty laws, but if you don’t know who’s in charge in your city or town, you can always call the local police non-emergency number to find out who to report the cruelty to.

Kathryn Ketchum

Interim Animal Services Director

City of Dickinson

Our Q2 2022 Webinar Calendar is Now Available

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Supported by partners like the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Spindletop Community Impact Partners, Inc.  and others, our free webinars are designed to provide critical safety education and resources to schools and communities across Texas.

All webinars are free-of-charge.

VIEW FULL CALENDAR HERE

An array of safety topics will be covered in the following key areas:

These S.A.V.E. webinars are made possible by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Spindletop Community Impact Partners, Inc.

These Safe Community presentations are made possible by Phillips 66, The Hamill Foundation, Harris County Commissioners Court – Commissioner R. Jack Cagle, Harris County Commissioners Court – Commissioner Tom Ramsey, Lawrence and Linda Levy, Cheniere Energy, Houston PetSet, and Harris County Sheriff’s Office Foundation.

Download the Q2 2022 Webinar Calendar