By Joseph Hamrick
Hunt County resident Lorrie Leroy said she has been “getting the runaround” from the sheriff’s department one month after she was told a committee would be formed to deal with the lack of animal control in the county.
During the Sept. 25 Hunt County Commissioners Court meeting, Hunt County Sheriff Randy Meeks said he wanted to organize a committee with Leroy and a commissioner.
“This is a major problem that we have here in Hunt County,” he said. “I would like myself, one of the commissioners, someone from the health department and Mrs. Leroy to find a workable solution.”
Leroy said she is not aware of any steps being taken by the sheriff’s department.
“I am not getting anything back from them,” she said. “I think they thought that I would just go away.”
According to Meeks, politics have played a role in his department not being able to add animal control services.
“Because of politics, three environmental enforcement officers were moved from the sheriff and put under the fire marshal,” he said. “My plan is to ask for the officers back.”
Meeks said he has run into a wall with the commissioners in getting the officers back into the sheriff’s department.
“I have requested twice for it to be on the commissioners’ agenda,” he said. “It hasn’t been put on yet. I have not had cooperation with the commissioners to address the issue.”
Meeks said he would like to use the officers for animal control as well as environmental enforcement.
“We are currently snowed under here,” he said. “I want to utilize them to vaccinate animals and use them under animal control. Also we could use them to quarrantine dangerous animals.”
Under state law, the county sheriff is expected to act as an animal control officer if there is not another officer designated for that job. Leroy said the department is not following the law.
“Hunt County is in violation of section 822.001 of Vernon’s Statutes and Codes,” she said during the Sept. 25 meeting. “I know we can’t afford an animal shelter, but we should have an animal control officer here.”
According to Leroy, she received a surprising response from an unnamed sheriff’s department employee after calling the department many times during the month.
“They told me just to shoot any dogs that pose a threat to me,” Leroy said. “I asked them how are they going to respond when people call them because their dogs have been shot?”