Animal Services seizes 99 animals from abusive conditions
SAN ANGELO, Texas – A typical day in the life of an Animal Services employee is not just about taking care of dogs and cats or picking up roadkill. Although those duties are a crucial part of the job, there is much more to it. Employees have to be ready for anything. This was as true as ever when they responded to a call involving almost 100 livestock animals living in abusive conditions.
It was mid-June 2020 when Animal Services received a call from a citizen reporting a plethora of cruelly treated animals at a residence on East 29th Street. The animals were living in mounds of junk and confined spaces with no access to food or fresh water.
Three hours later, and with the help of seven staff members, a total of 96 fowl (chicken and turkey), two horses and one opossum were seized from the property and taken to the animal shelter.
“The horses had one small paddock to share between the two of them,” said Animal Services Director Morgan Chegwidden. “The opossum was in a tiny show crate with completely green water. The chickens were in painfully small enclosures … the laying hens couldn’t even stand up and had no water dishes. It was like a chicken city – just rows on rows of enclosures with barely enough room to maneuver in between. It looked like a junkyard and had scrap metal everywhere. Some aluminum cans were even embedded in the horses’ hooves.”
Under City ordinance, fowl and horses are allowed inside city limits if they are kept 100 feet from any other business, institution or residence. In addition, residents may not have more than one adult male chicken or rooster on their property in city limits. Opossums are strictly prohibited to own or harbor. Moreover, the owners must meet the standards of care for all animals, including adequate food, water and care.
“We’re grateful to citizens who report cases such as these,” Chegwidden said. “No animal deserves to live in small confined spaces without access to fresh water or food. The long-term effects of such treatment can permanently limit the animal’s quality of life.”
Municipal Court quickly ruled against the owner, permitting all the seized animals to go to Animal Services for rehabilitation. The two horses were malnourished, and it appeared that most of the roosters were used for cock fighting, which is also illegal in San Angelo. Many of the fowl were highly aggressive, including some of the turkeys, and would need special rehabilitation.
The Animal Shelter was already at full capacity, so this situation was especially tricky. Staff installed secure enclosures behind the shelter building for the fowl. With the amount of stray and surrendered animals that are brought in, they simply were not equipped to handle this many animals; they needed to adopt them out, and quickly.
“Caring for 99 extra animals in the height of our busy season isn’t what we’re designed or staffed for,” Chegwidden said. “It’s only because of the heart of our staff and partners that we could handle this with the vast majority of animals receiving a live outcome.”
In just under two weeks, the horses were sent to a rescue, all roosters and chicken were adopted, and the turkeys were released into the wild.
Just another day for Animal Services.
Courtesy: City of San Angelo
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