by MATT MOLINAR//Opinion Editor
Stray dogs and cats have always been a problem in Hockley County, but recently the issue has caused a great amount of stress for the only animal shelter in Levelland.
Carol Lawson, senior animal control officer, spends a great amount of her time at the Levelland Animal Shelter, located on Commerce Street, making sure the dogs are healthy, maintaining kennels and doing whatever else the shelter needs.
“Our main concern is the strays and anyone who reports animal cruelty,” Lawson said. “We pick up a lot of dogs that have been fighting and have blood all over them.”
The shelter has been standing for four years, after the demolition of the previous shelter, which was in terrible condition, according to Lawson.
When strays are captured, the shelter posts a short story about the animal. If the animal stays at the shelter for more than a week, they will post another, larger story concerning the animal.
“That’s when they become ours,” Lawson said. “Some people get put in jail, and we’ll ask how long the person will be in jail. If it is more than around five days, we will take their dog, before it ends up as a stray. In most cases, they will turn the dog over. If the dog is aggressive or severely injured, then we will put them to sleep, otherwise we will give them a home.”
Lawson says that around 100 dogs come in and out of the shelter each year. The number, she says, is growing because dog owners are not spaying and neutering their pets, which get out and reproduce. This is what Lawson says causes the stray problem.
“We’ve had two dogs in the bathroom, two dogs in the hallway and a dog in the cat kennel,” Lawson said. “Plus, everything else is full. We’ve got 21 dog kennels and eight cat kennels, and that’s it. If we get 22 dogs, we’re sunk.”
If there’s one thing the public can do to help, Lawson says, it is spaying and neutering dogs.
“I see people all the time at Wal-Mart just giving puppies away,” Lawson said. “To be honest, if I were the consumer, I would not buy a pup off of the side of the road. Parvo is rampant. The vet clinic had 23 cases of parvo last month, and that’s crazy. But it’s everywhere.”
According to Lawson, parvo can live in the ground for up to seven years. So if puppies wander into a parvo-infected yard, they are helping spread the illness to dogs that will likely lick their feet and become infected.
Because the shelter is a quarantined facility, it is possible for it to contain dogs with parvo. However, they will more than likely have to face euthinization.
The shelter does not charge an adoption fee. However, you must pay to spay or neuter your animal before you are able to adopt it. For more information on adopting a dog or cat, contact the Levelland Animal Shelter at (806) 894-6164.