Harris County Animal Shelter volunteers push to be stand-alone department, claim animal cruelty

Courtney Carpenter Image
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Former lead vet claims animals abused at Harris Co. shelter
Harris County Animal Shelter volunteers and its former lead veterinarian went face to face with county leaders to try and separate the shelter from the county's public health department.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- On Tuesday, volunteers and a former employee of the Harris County Animal Shelter went before county commissioners to express their concern about the current state of the shelter.

ABC13 has done several stories in recent years about the shelter being full or over capacity and needing to get animals adopted.

The people who spoke out during the commissioners' court meeting on Tuesday claim the shelter is not caring for animals properly, and they are asking for the shelter to become a stand-alone operation.

"Almost every animal that leaves the shelter does so in a worse condition than when they arrived - animals sitting on vet evaluation for nine to 10 days, starving to death in their kennels, not receiving appropriate medicine or diagnostics, and being euthanized without public knowledge," Alexx DeCrosta, the former lead veterinarian at the Harris County Animal Shelter, said.

She feels there is no excuse for the shelter to be the way it is today.

"Animals should not be doing better on the streets of Houston than in the care of veterinarians, technicians, kennel staff and management and a multi-million dollar facility brought to you by the taxpayer," DeCrosta said.

DeCrosta, along with several current volunteers, let it be known to commissioners they believe the shelter would be better off as a stand-alone department, separate from Harris County Public Health.

"Separating from the public health department would benefit the shelter through increased visibility and accountability to the public," volunteer Rebecca Bridges said.

Later in the meeting, Barbie Robinson, the executive director of Harris County Public Health, explained the challenges they are facing and the progress she says they have made at the shelter. She also denied the allegations of animal abuse.

"There's always going to be detractors, those that perhaps aren't happy with the changes and policy shifts. We're still more than willing to communicate and work with those individuals and partner with them, but we do believe the direction that we're headed in is for the effective and efficient administration of government programs," Robinson explained.

So what's next?

At this point, the conversation continues. No decision was made Tuesday on if the shelter will become stand-alone or not. However, commissioners voted on several action items, including finding a director for the shelter, coming up with a compensation plan for shelter employees, and community meetings on the issue.

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