Written by Phil Cerroni
By Amanda Casanova
Dallas County officials looking to cracking down on animal cruelty cases voted Dec. 4 to create an animal cruelty unit to prosecute those cases. The unit will be the first of its kind in North Texas and is a partnership between organization “Safer Dallas, Better Dallas” and Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia.
"Our goal is simple,” Garcia said. “Dallas County will not tolerate animal cruelty anymore, and those offenses will be prosecuted.”
The unit, which will include one prosecutor and one investigator, needs about $200,000 to operate. Dallas County Commissioner Maurine Dickey and her husband, who owns Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc., have already donated $40,000 to the unit.
Another $2,000 has been donated, officials announced at a recent press conference. County leaders are hoping the unit will be funded solely through donations.
“It breaks my heart to see how these animals are treated and knowing how many other cases are never fully investigated and brought to justice,” Commissioner Dickey said. “We felt compelled to help this cause move forward.”
Just this year, Dallas County has reported more than 2,500 animal cruelty cases. In response to the uptick in animal cruelty cases, the new unit will address offenses such as intentionally killing or causing serious bodily injury, torture, abandonment, dog fighting and cock fighting.
“While we have had dedicated efforts to fight animal cruelty, so often prosecution would be delayed and evidence lost because the District Attorney’s Office simply did not have the resources to handle the volume of cases,” Commissioner Garcia said. "The Animal Cruelty Unit is the missing piece that is needed to make sure that those who hurt or neglect animals in Dallas County are held to account for their crimes.”
The unit will be led by assistant district attorney David Alex. In 2007, Alex prosecuted a case where a 21-year-old was convicted of stabbing and setting his dog on fire.
Final approval for the new unit will come to the Commissioners court on Dec. 11. Donations for the Dallas County Animal Cruelty Unit are accepted at www.SaferDallas.com.