Deputy encourages Orange Co. residents to follow leash laws

Deputy encourages Orange Co. residents to follow leash laws

Orange County Deputy Rocky Bridges said investigators are still searching for the culprit or culprits responsible for poisoning at least eight dogs reported Jan. 23-24 in the Greenwood Acres Subdivision of Mauriceville.

“We don’t have anything,” Deputy Bridges said regarding the progress of the investigation. “(Wednesday, Feb. 13) will be three weeks. We have no evidence, no suspects, no witnesses have come forward, no more dogs have been poisoned, no nothing. So far, everything is dead in the water.”

Bridges said he was pleased that there had been no more dogs poisoned in the area to his knowledge since the initial reports in late January. He said the county has regulations mandating dog owners to keep their dogs confined to their property, and believes it would be less likely neighborhood dogs could or would be poisoned if kept restrained.

“There is a county leash law,” Bridges said. “It’s been here since Sept. 14, 1995. It covers everything from A to Z. … It basically says that your dog, 24-7 has to stay within the limits of your property. … It has to stay on a leash, cable, lead. … It has to stay within the limits of your property because you can’t say that, well my dog never leaves my yard. … Unless you sleep with your dog outside, you can’t say that your dog never leaves your yard. The ordinance is so strict we don’t actually enforce this particular part of the ordinance, but the ordinance actually says that if you have a dog, you have to have a fenced yard. We don’t enforce that particular section of the ordinance because if we did — my goodness.”

Bridges said the ordinance also specifies in the Restraint section that if the dog is outside the fence, the animal must be restrained by a leash or cable of some kind. He said the Confinement section of the ordinance states if the property owner has a fence or if the dog stays in the house, the owner does not need to have the dog restrained with a leash as long as the animal is confined on the property.

Bridges said he does not seek out neighborhood dogs that may be unrestrained. He said his area covers all of Orange County, which he estimates to be approximately 400 square miles. He said he simply does not have the resources or time to patrol looking for loose animals. He already receives 10-15 calls or more per day.

“The dog problem in Orange County is out of control,” Bridges said. “With all of the animal calls I get every day, I would say, I answer as many calls if not more on some days as patrol answers as far as animal calls. Most of the calls that I answer pertain to dogs.”

Bridges said dog owners could face some heavy consequences for not abiding by the county leash laws.

“The ordinance is very, very strict,” Bridges reiterated. “A violation of the county leash law is one of two things. It is either a citation for up to a $500 fine. Or, because it is a Class C misdemeanor, you could be arrested for it.”

Bridges encourages pet owners to keep their animals in check to avoid repercussions. He is still searching for leads regarding the January dog poisonings. Call (409) 883-2612 or (409) 882-7913 if you have any information regarding this incident. The Southeast Texas Humane Society is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case. Call (409) 833-0504.