Hays County Animal Control's small crew fights population growth and call increase
HAYS COUNTY, Texas - Hays County Animal Control is working with a small crew as the county population grows and the number of calls increase.
"More people would be better, we could cover more," Hays County Animal Control Supervisor John Trinidad said.
The U.S. Census shows Hays County was one of the fastest growing counties in Texas from 2020 to 2021. Hays County Animal Control usually only has four officers who patrol almost 700 square miles.
"I don’t think we have enough Animal Control Officers for this," Trinidad said.
They’re responsible for investing reports of animal bites, quarantining animals suspected of having rabies, issuing citations for violations, and capturing and transporting animals to the shelter.
"If one of the deputies arrests somebody and they have an animal and there’s nobody that can come get the animal, my guys have to go out, pick it up, and take it to the shelter and leave it there," Trinidad said.
The Animal Control Officers complete a basic control course and continuing education.
"We are provided with tools and lots of training," Trinidad said. "A lot of training we get is the experience doing this for a while."
Trinidad said many times Animal Control Officers are also training the community.
"Often times we’re trying to educate folks on proper husbandry, so they know the right way to take care of animals," he said. "A lot of times they’re not meaning to do something that is bad, they just don’t know better."
Some calls they respond to can be dangerous.
"The animals can be unpredictable, especially when you’re trying to capture one, when you corner it, there’s that fight or flight and when you get them cornered, they can become very aggressive," Trinidad said.
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Records show Hays County Animal Control responded to 345 animal cruelty neglect cases in 2021, 469 in 2022, and 88 already this year.
"We’re extremely busy," Trinidad said.
They don’t cover weekends, so patrol then responds.
"Anything we don’t cover, patrol has to cover for us, and they already have enough to worry about," Trinidad said.
Trinidad said with the growing population, more officers are needed.