Dead cat, redux: Council shuts down Bryant’s proposed change to animal control policy

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

The dead cat issue finally has died.

Glen Rose City Councilman Chris Bryant’s attempt to change the wording of the city’s emergency call procedures for the Animal Control Department failed Monday night after his motion, like the cat in question, also died — for lack of a second, in his case.

A bit of background: Last month the council meeting agenda included an item to discuss and possibly take action on changing the hours and work schedules of animal control employees. It was tabled because of the way the item was worded.

As the Glen Rose Current first reported, this all stemmed from an incident in October. Bryant was unhappy that he could not get a city animal control employee to remove a dead cat from a downtown street after he called on a Saturday, only to be told that is was against city to respond to non-emergencies on weekends.

Dead animals were not considered  an emergency because they could not bite anyone when they were dead. Employees responding to emergency calls after regular work hours also received overtime pay.

The wording of the emergency call-out procedures stating that  that animal control employees may be dispatched for injured animals and not dead animals except for “extenuating circumstances” also created confusion, Bryant said.

During the October dead cat incident, Bryant called the Somervell County Sheriff’s Office — whose dispatchers receive animal control calls after regular hours — and asked that an animal control employee remove a cat that had been run over. Then he called back to say that the animal had died and he wanted animal control to remove it.

The dispatcher advised him that it was against the policy of the Animal Control Department to remove dead animals on weekends —  employees are on call to respond to emergencies only because working on weekends qualifies as over-time. According to a copy of the recording obtained by the Current, Bryant told the dispatcher that the animal control employee on call “would” respond because he was a city councilman.

The animal control employee on call, Cathrine Peck, also spoke with Bryant and repeated the policy that she wasn’t authorized to respond to such requests to pick up dead animals on weekends.

In a complaint Peck filed against Bryant for alleged “bullying,” she said he used phrases such as, “Are you refusing a council member?” and “Well, Cat, this is not going to look good come Monday morning.”

Peck further said in the complaint she hoped it would “lead to an eye opener for all as to how he (Bryant) has tried to bully his way around to get what he wants and even goes to the point of using his position in council that he sees it is okay for him to get special privileges.”

After the Current posted copies of the sheriff’s dispatcher report and recordings of the phone calls to the dispatcher on this website, Bryant contacted Mayor Pro Tem Bob Stricklin to seek to resolve the matter. He and Peck reached an agreement to resolve the dispute and she withdrew her grievance from the agenda of a special city council meeting.

At Monday night’s meeting, the issue again was debated at length.

Stricklin said that city staff members had met with the Somervell County sheriff and chief deputy, who expressed the desire to keep the emergency call procedures the same with one exception — if there was a “vicious or aggressive dog” that presented a danger.

Bryant said he felt the term “extenuating circumstances” could be interpreted many ways.

“What is that?” he asked. “That is a broad wording.”

Bryant said he is a “compassionate person for animals” and does not want to see dead animals in the road. If city animal control employees refuse to pick them up, that is a disservice to citizens and taxpayers, he said.

“Pets can be more than pets, to some they are family members,” Bryant added.

Dead animals should be taken to a designated area so owners can claim their pets, he suggested.

Council members asked how far the city policy should go. What about someone’s pet rabbit? What about deer hit in the road and that could be considered a traffic hazard?

“You can expand it, but we also have to fund that,” Stricklin said. “There are not enough funds in the budget to add that. We’re a small community, we’re a rural community. I don’t expect government to take care of everything. As a citizen, I have responsibility.”

A compassionate person would check on an animal in the road and remove it to the side or take it to the animal control department, Stricklin said.

“If you’re a compassionate person about animals, you can’t throw it in a dumpster, you can’t just bury it,” Bryant said. How would that come across if someone heard a council person had dragged an animal to the side of the road, he asked.

That would be better than leaving it in the road to “get smashed,” Stricklin said.

Bryant said that if it’s a dead domestic animal or is large enough to cause a traffic hazard, it should be removed. Beyond the safety issue, it would contribute to “beautifying Glen Rose,” he added.

In the end, Bryant’s motion to update the city policy to remove “extenuating circumstances” and require animal control employees to pick up “domestic animals or animals large enough to create a traffic hazard” after hours did not receive a second.

The council also approved an addendum to the animal control policy to make sure the county and sheriff’s dispatchers were aware of the emergency call-0ut procedures.

 

 

One Response to Dead cat, redux: Council shuts down Bryant’s proposed change to animal control policy

  1. Shirley smith Reply

    January 20, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Loved the article. Sheeeeee’ssss baaack! Keep up the good work. Does the term “Village Idiot” come to mind?

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