San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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The killing of two dogs last week by authorities and the resulting public debate has Hays County commissioners examining their animal control ordinance this week.

A yellow lab/pit bull mix and a black lab were euthanized at the City of San Marcos’ regional animal shelter about five days after the animals reportedly killed 12 chickens in Wimberley. The incident was reportedly caught on a game camera and the dogs were taken into custody by animal control officers working for the Hays County Sheriff’s Office.

One of the owners of the yellow lab/pit bull, Wimberley resident Erin Pate, had pleaded for her dog’s life in a FOX 7 television news broadcast on Feb. 14. On Feb. 15, the Sheriff’s Office reported the dogs had been euthanized late the previous day.

Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley, in whose precinct the incident occurred, said county law should be changed to give owners of offending dogs more “due process.” Conley said the District Attorney’s Office is preparing possible changes to the current animal control ordinance. He placed the following item on the commissioners court’s Feb. 21 agenda: “Discussion and possible action to amend the Hays County Animal Control Ordinance.”

The commissioners court convenes at 9 a.m. and the agenda items may be taken in any order. Residents of Hays County may speak on any matter during the citizen comment period at the beginning of the meeting, or they may sign-up to speak when an item of interest comes up for discussion.

The meeting will be on the third floor of the Hays County Courthouse, which is located at 111 East San Antonio Street in San Marcos.

Scott Pate released custody of the yellow lab/pit bull to animal control officers on Feb. 13. The Sheriff’s Office initially reported Pate owned the black lab, but later said the animal had been abandoned by a renter who lived next door to Pate. The Sheriff’s Office reported Pate expressed relief about releasing custody of yellow lab/pit bull because it had bitten another of his dogs.

Conley said his wife, who like him is a dog lover and “animal person,” notified him of the incident on Feb. 14. Conley said he called the Pates that day and spoke to Scott Pate’s wife, Erin Pate, who he said was upset about the incident. Conley said he examined the animal control ordinance and drove to the animal shelter the next morning to see if they could “buy more time.”

“But unfortunately, the dogs had already been euthanized,” Conley said.

Conley said owners of dogs accused of livestock destruction should be given more options.

“There is no due process in the current animal protection ordinance,” Conley said.

Hays County’s animal control ordinance requires the killing of a dog found to have attacked livestock, and the law provides no exceptions. Owners who fail or refuse to allow their offending animals to be killed may be charged with a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of no more than $100. Owners may also be confined in the county jail for no more than 30 days.

Additionally, the ordinance allows a peace officer or magistrate to enter private property and kill livestock-attacking dogs if the owners do not. The ordinance also allows anyone who witnessed the attack or “has knowledge of the attack” to kill or impound the offending dog without being required to compensate the owner.

Conley said the section of the animal control ordinance dealing with “dangerous dogs” provides more due process.

The ordinance defines “dangerous dog” as one that has attacked a human being without provocation in an area other than inside the enclosure where the dog is kept.

Owners of dogs declared by animal control authorities to be dangerous are entitled to appeal the declaration to a justice court. An animal control officer has no authority to confiscate any dog unless he or she has delivered to the dog owner a written notice of the determination that the dog is dangerous. If the dog is within a residence, the officer must obtain a search and seizure warrant before confiscating a dog. Under the current ordinance, a confiscated dog shall be sheltered for 72 hours, not counting weekends and holidays, to allow the owner to claim the dog after satisfying the requirements of owning a dangerous dog. Unless the owner claims the dog within this time period, the officer may destroy the dog without compensation to the owner.

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18 thoughts on “County to consider loosening animal control ordinance

  1. why dont we have a no kill shelter like kyle? from experience. our shelter is a disgrace to humane behavior.

  2. Pls let me say a word on behalf of us chickens out here – some of us can’t speak for ourselves. We really don’t like being ripped to pieces by your otherwise friendly and gentle household pet dog. We know he never hurt a flea in his life until he had a chance to get at us. We don’t fight back to well. In the future, please do what you can to keep yr friendly gentle pet under control and not tempt him/her with an opportunity to rough us up.
    Thanks – just us chickens

  3. I’m glad someone else has realized that the clear message of this story seems to be that 1 dog > 12 chickens.

    I don’t know that it’s necessarily fair to condemn a dog to death the first time he bites, but running roughshod over a dozen chickens isn’t exactly just a little nip…..

  4. I would expect many dogs to kill chickens, if given the chance. What separated these dogs, was that the owner let them get out, apparently multiple times on the same day.

    We have a large dog, which has never been exposed to, much less trained/socialized around chickens. It would probably take her all of 2 minutes to kill a dozen of them. We’ll never find out if she would, because she doesn’t run loose.

    I’m still not sure that there was a better “real world” solution, but ideally (IMO) the dogs would have been housed at the shelter, at the owner’s expense, placed in new homes, at the old owner’s expense, and trained, at the old owner’s expense.

    Again, I don’t know that this would really be practical.

    If someone with some expertise had determined that the dogs had a low probability of rehabilitation, then that would be another matter altogether.

  5. You are missing the point because you are ignoring the fact that the dog KILLED. Fortunately, it killed 12 chicken instead a child or children. Of course, only those whom don’t have child would protect an aggressive dog about to kill chickens and/or children. Additionally, the owners should be legal responsible for the misbehavior dog.

  6. Who is missing the point? Me? Doubtful. It seems like a real stretch, to tie killing chickens, with a likelihood of killing children. Is there a study somewhere, to back this up?

  7. My dog happily killed an opossum who wandered into the yard, but coexisted quite peacefully with cats and children. I think what we have here is a case of: Monkeys eat bananas. I eat bananas. Therefore, I am a monkey.

  8. You know, dogs kill chickens. You learn that from living in the country.
    Unfortunately, when dogs get a taste for chicken, they won’t stop. The killing of these dogs, however, is a bit reactive. I know some people that eat chickens, lots of them. I would even risk that some of these humans are ravenous as well.

    More killin is not the right thing to do here.

  9. Have the dog owners made any attempt to pay for their dog’s devastation? The Pate’s need to doll out a lot of cash to make up for the damage caused by their unfenced dog. The price of a dozen free-range organic eggs is $6.19 at Brookshire Brothers in Wimberley. If the chicken owner buys replacement chicks now ($3-$4/chick), he won’t have eggs for 6-7 months (2 dozen eggs/week x 7 months=$346.64). Let’s not forget about the organic chick starter food which is $30.00/bag at King Feed in Wimberley. My chickens aren’t just chickens, they are family pets. I also have three dogs who are fenced in their yard when they are not in the house.

    Good fences make good neighbors.

  10. Ellie,

    I understand how you feel about the chickens. I’ve raised them my self.
    The owner should pay for the damage. The loss of the chickens, the loss of the family pets (be dogs or chickens)are all quite sad. The killin of the dogs, something that could have been avoided and I dare say the main subject here,is not acceptable behavior by our public safety officers. Let’s say that the dogs didn’t get “euthanized”, they could still go after the owners for the damage. I wasn’t necessary to kill in this situation. Dogs do this when they run free and get in pack mode. Dogs killing chickens doesn’t mean the dogs will kill people. The owners should pay and so should also be reimbursed for the wrongful unnecessary killing of their dogs. Oh, and the chickens, when they stop laying eggs, get slain by their owners. So,I know we all are sad for the losses. Why make it worse with more killing?

  11. Dogs hunt. They are predators. When they run in packs, it’s worse.

    But Susan, please. My two rescues would most likely kill chickens; but they are kept either fenced, on leashes, or under voice command. They will never get the chance to kill a chicken. But neither one has ever done anything but either play with, roll over on their backs for rubs, or guard a child.

    Bottom line, dogs in the country should be contained on their owners property. Out in the cedars where I live, a loose dog is a target. If mine got off my property and were shot, it would be my fault, not theirs.

  12. Sean,
    Thank you for that report. Did I miss something? Was there a date on this. Also it seems very standardized. And just sigh in this whole ordeal. Angles death is a big deal . I also feel very sorry for the abandoned lab. As someone said before tie a dead chicken to a dogs collar for a few days it will not want to kill a chicken again. I am truly sorry people who have never experienced country life ever. Things happen. And well they do NOT always shoot their neighbors dogs or call animal control over these situations. The neighbor can pay cash or whatever for the loss of the chickens and repairs. Someone obviously did not want to deal with this and needed to show they can and will put to death a dog even though many in the city and county governments as well as us well Citizens begged them to allow Angel and the other dog some time. Look what has happened now. A big slap in the face politically speaking. Let us all learn to work together! I miss Mayberry!

  13. Sorry adrian,
    Loose dogs in country life do get shot. One dog running loose, not so bad. Two dogs running loose is asking for trouble and 3 dogs usually find trouble regardless, it may not be witnessed outright whether it be chickens, cats, ducks, fawns, rabbits, or any other such critter. Loose dogs are a problem, no doubt about it. Folks seem to think that living in the country gives them a right to let their dogs roam free. Point is that if they leave their property and wander, it is a problem. The owner of the chickens would have been completely justified in shooting both dogs on the spot. This turned into a big deal because they reported the chicken killing to the county. Most of the time loose dogs pack up and kill, it doesn’t get reported.

  14. I’ve owned lots of chickens and have owned 4 different dogs that coexisted with the chickens. Every one of those dogs would jump at the chance of killing one, given the chance. It’s inate in them, just as they kill any small varmint. I don’t believe you can train a dog not to kill chickens unless you are willing to sacrifice several chickens of your own. If you want to keep chickens in a neighborhood, they need to be penned or fenced just as dogs in a neighborhood need to be. Not to say the dog owner should’nt be punished and replace the chickens, but dogs are typically family members and as such deserve this change in due process.

  15. Loose dogs killing chickens is the least of the problem here. Loose dogs getting run over, causing an accident trying to avoid said loose dog, family member dog harming someone elses family member dog, making it difficult to walk or bike down the road without loose dog chasing you or your children. Loose dogs running up on horseback riders spooking the horse (happened to me yesterday) which could injure the rider. Every one of these scenarios can be avoided by keeping your dog confined to your property or on a leash. Why is there a problem with that?

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