"The execution of the laws is more important than the making of them" is one of my favorite Thomas Jefferson quotes. He was so right. Decades ago, when animals were abused, people would say "There ought to be a law." Well, now society has progressed and there are laws to punish people who abuse animals. However, there must be tough enforcement of these laws or we might as well not have them.
After my posting about the Harris County District Attorney's Office, people called and emailed for more information. So, I called the District Attorney himself, Mike Anderson. Just as I expected, he wasn't sitting around taking phone calls. He is, after all, busy prosecuting cop killers and other villains. I was referred to a lawyer named Connie Spence. She serves as Bureau Chief of Special Crimes, which is where animal cruelty prosecutions are now handled. Ms. Spence was kind enough to speak with me regarding the animal cruelty cases. She was not able to provide some of the information I requested (such as an organizational chart) but she did provide details about what is happening in the office.
She said that Judge Anderson (Mike Anderson is a former judge and, as is a typical courtesy, I will refer to him as Judge -apparently, once you are a Judge, you are forever branded as such) remains committed to prosecuting these cases. That is good news. There will be a dedicated animal cruelty "specialist" instead of doling out the cases to a passel of different prosecutors. That is more good news. Now for the bad news: the animal cruelty prosecutor will no longer be only handling animal cases but will be required to handle other cases in addition to her animal cruelty docket. I asked for specifics. Will the prosecutor be given 50 additional cases? 100? 200? Ms. Spence could not answer the question but it sounds like it might be a huge number of additional cases.
The other sad news is that there is no longer an assigned animal cruelty investigator. Ms. Spence promised that investigator resources will be available to the animal cruelty specialist but it didn't sound like one specific investigator would be dedicated to animal cruelty cases.
I asked if Judge Anderson would like to provide a statement to be published on my blog. Ms. Spence was not in a position to provide this, but she did invite me to speak to the public information officer for more specifics about what is happening. I will be contacting the public information officer and provide an update when I have more information.
Anyone who has an opinion about this situation should contact Judge Anderson. The District Attorney is an elected official, with an office funded by taxpayer dollars. He is accountable to the public but elected officials are not mind-readers: they need to know what the public wants. Everything I have heard about Judge Anderson is positive and I suspect he, like all good politicians, would welcome feedback from the public. His address is District Attorney's Office, 1201 Frankin, Houston, Texas 77002. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and his phone number is 713-755-5800.