I am writing in response to Jessica Flaxman’s letter to the editor that appeared in the “Fort Bend Star” on July 17. The article was extremely critical of Sugar Land Animal Services and our employees. Our employees and the many dedicated volunteers who donate their time on a regular basis are very disappointed about the inaccurate information written by Ms. Flaxman. I’d like to set the record straight.
In April, we began receiving numerous calls about a Staffordshire terrier mix running loose near the Sugar Land Police Department. We located the dog, but it ran into the culvert system. More calls were received in June telling us the same dog was running loose further north at the HEB store. We were unable to locate the dog until June 14 when we found the animal behind HEB with two puppies. All three dogs exhibited aggressive behavior toward people and each other. Animal services officers were unable to catch the adult dog.
The puppies were taken back to the shelter, where they continued their aggressive behavior. In fact, one puppy attacked the other, biting its neck and drawing blood before we were able to separate them. They were held for the 72 hours as required by law and the decision was made to humanely euthanize them based on their behavior. They were a danger to staff and other animals and could not be safely handled. Placing them in a home environment would create a dangerous environment for adults and children.
Animal services officers patrolled the HEB area on a daily basis and sighted the adult dog on June 25. While setting a trap, we were approached by Sharon Rode, of Save Our Strays, who told an animal services officer that Ms. Flaxman, who works at a bank across the street, wanted to adopt the dog. Our animal services officer took the time to meet with Ms. Flaxman to discuss the situation involving the aggressive dog and how the animal adoption process works in Sugar Land. Our animal services officer checked the trap after work on her way home. She found Ms. Flaxman and another bank employee standing by the trap. Inside the trap was the adult Staffordshire terrier mix. Flaxman and her co-worker told our animal services officer that they intended to release the dog.
Once the dog was in the trap, it became City property. Ms. Flaxman and her male co-worker became agitated, confrontational and began yelling at our female animal services officer. An additional animal services officer and a police officer were called to assist with what had become a confrontational situation. I also traveled to the location to speak with Ms. Flaxman and her co-worker. I told Ms. Flaxman I would put a hold on the dog for her, personally contact her if anything changed with the dog and take no action with the dog until I had talked to her first. I invited both of them to visit our shelter operation and facilities. When we all left the parking lot, everything seemed to be fine.
Ms. Flaxman arrived at the shelter the next day with another co-worker. As we walked toward the Staffordshire terrier mix’s kennel, the dog let out a low growl and assumed a crouching attack position. The dog did the same thing the next time Ms. Flaxman visited. She contacted several rescue groups and trainers trying to place the dog, but as expected, none were willing to assume responsibility for a 40 pound dog showing constant signs of aggression. This included Sharon Rode, of Save Our Strays.
We normally hold a dog without identification for 72 hours or 3 days. We held this one for eight days so Ms. Flaxman would have every opportunity to get the dog placed after it failed our behavior evaluation. I personally went to the bank to talk to Ms. Flaxman about the decision that had to be made to humanely euthanize the dog. She was gone for the day, but we talked at 3:40 pm on July 3.
She was very gracious and thanked us for working with her. We were all shocked to read her editorial. It was completely inaccurate. The protection and safety of animals is our mission. It breaks our heart when we can’t place one of them with a caring family.
Kathryn E. Ketchum
Sugar Land Animal