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KBTX | Bryan & College Station, TX | News, Weather, Sports

Animal Shelter Stripped of Seizure Power

By: Lindsay Liepman
By: Lindsay Liepman

The Brazos Animal Shelter is stripped of its power to seize livestock in the county.

And at least one commissioner would like to take away all the shelter's authority to seize.

The Sheriff's office is now the sole agency responsible for livestock animal rescue.

The decision to change the county's contract with the shelter comes after a seizure last week that commissioners told the shelter not to do.

"The problem is they have a misconception about what cruelty to livestock is," says County Judge Randy Sims.

For almost an hour, Brazos County Commissioners and the shelter's Executive Director Kelley Durham went back and forth on what cruelty is.

Last week, the shelter seized nearly a dozen horses from a Brazos County resident because they said the conditions were unsanitary and cramped.

Commissioner Duane Peters said the owner was a retired veterinarian for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the conditions were typical.

"The law says cruelty includes torture, significantly overworked animals, abandoned and deprived of necessary care and shelter. That is extreme. These horses were not cruelly treated," says Commissioner Peters.

"We're not being zealots, we're not being radicals, we are using the law based on complaints to us," says Durham.

Abuse of power by the shelter has been a complaint from livestock owners for some time.

The late Dixie Chicken owner Don Ganter, had 14 animals seized in 2003.

He said at the time, the shelter was mistaking old horses for being malnourished.

Six of his animals were returned.

Now, the county is changing its contract to shift that power to the sheriff's office.

Durham wouldn't comment on camera but said at the meeting 100 percent of the shelter's seizures have resulted in a judge finding the animals cruelly treated.

But those cases can not be appealed once decided.

The shelter is still allowed to seize small animals, but Commissioner Peters would like that responsibility to also fall under the sheriff's sole jurisdiction.

Tomorrow lawyers for both parties will finalize the changes at the shelter's board meeting.


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