Montgomery County will begin its first animal cruelty unit with two investigator spots opening. The county’s Constable Precinct 2 Facebook page officially announced the unit in an Aug. 4 post.
At a July 29 county budget workshop, Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Walker and Precinct 2 Commissioner Charlie Riley said they would fund the two positions, which Captain Greg Thomason requested during the constable precinct’s budget presentation.
“This proposal addresses the need to have full-time investigators dedicated to investigating animal cruelty cases,” Thomason said.
Thomason said county dispatchers received over 7,600 calls about animal cruelty from 2015 to 2020. He provided statistics showing links between animal cruelty and other crimes, including violent crimes, prostitution, and narcotics.
Montgomery County did not have a dedicated unit to respond to crimes against animals, according to Thomason. He has worked with Animal Services Director Aaron Johnson since January to develop the program. According to Law Furr Paws, a website the Constable Precinct 2 set up as a community fundraiser, the county district attorney’s office has provided a specialized prosecutor to guide in the investigative phase.
Constable Precinct 2 initially requested four countywide investigators and a supervisor in their budget presentation. Precinct 3 Commissioner James Noack suggested having the precinct take over Montgomery County Animal Services’ control officers, who are not certified deputies, and train them to help enforce animal welfare.
“We get a lot of complaints that [animal control officers] are not able to effectively handle the situation,” Noack said. “You would be the enforcement arm of what they do.”
However, Walker and Riley volunteered instead to fund the investigator positions. Walker said that as his precinct’s requested deputies had been funded, he would fund “one and a half” deputies for the constable precinct.
According to the Constable Precinct 2 post, animal cruelty reports will need to be called in to the Animal Services number, 936-442-7738. After Animal Services assesses the situation, investigators may be dispatched to the scene.