Members of the Dallas Co. Commissioners Court smiled broadly for pictures as they held up the giant, novelty check for $200,000. Behind the grins and glad-handing is the painful truth that animal cruelty is alive and well.
Considering how many high-profile cases of slaughtered cats or mutilated dogs come before the public’s eye, you might think the Dallas already has prosecutors dedicated to cruelty cases. Well, it didn’t before now.
Thanks to a two-month fundraising drive, Safe Dallas Better Dallas has come up with enough money to fund the Dallas County District Attorney’s Animal Cruelty Unit. The funds, $40,000 of which came from former Commissioner Maurine Dickey, will pay for one attorney and one investigator to prosecute people accused of abusing animals.
Coincidentally, the new office is being created the week before the trial is to start for the first of four suspects in the April, 2012, torture of a dog whose emergency vets called him “Justice.” The four-month-old puppy had been doused with lighter fluid and set on fire. A conviction could land the suspects in jail for up to ten years.
First Asst. DA Heath Harris hopes that the mere presence of the Animal Cruelty Unit will dissuade potential animal abusers. But considering the senseless nature of the crime, I kind of doubt it.