Justice for Hope – A Call to Action for Change

May 4, 2011

This is a very sad story to report, but we are doing so to help raise awareness for change some animal rescue folks are hoping to make in Harris County. Guest Rescuer, Michele Beauchamp, of Basset Buddies Rescue of Texas, shares Hope’s story, with a call to action to support their desire for change. There is a photo of Hope below; it is difficult to see because her leg is obviously very injured and in need of medical care. Where is the compassion for the innocent animals entrusted to the care of municipal shelters? The local investigative reporter that has been covering this story will air his findings tonight; details follow below in Michele’s post. There is also a list of  Harris County public officials and their phone numbers listed below; even if you are not in Harris County, let them know what you think about their policies and the compassionate change needed for innocent animals like Hope.

Justice for Hope, Hope for the Other Animals at the Shelter

Hope was a basset at Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services (Harris County). She was a stray that was picked up severely injurged- leg almost severed, internal injuries, etc. She was posted to PetFinder and Basset Buddies called and tried in vain to get her released early ( they have a 72 hour stray hold). Calls were made to the director of the shelter, county commissioners, even the Mayor’s offfice and still no one would allow Hope to be pulled early. She was considered property and they insisted that the stray hold was in effect. When Hope’s stray hold expired, Saturday at 4pm, our volunteer picked her up and rushed her to a private vet. After a comprehensive exam, it was determined that Hope was dying. She had internal injuries, infection of the leg had spread throughout her body and even amputing the leg would do no good- she was too far gone. Our wonderful volunteer sat with her, held her head and kissed her goodbye as she went to the Rainbow Bridge. This was the most compassion and love that she had seen. We decided at that time that a dog should never have to suffer like this again. Hope was not the first basset that was pulled from HCPHES that had to be put down immediately- they are seen once by a vet and then left, they are not treated while at the shelter.

What we are trying to do is get the stray hold changed so that rescues can treat the dogs and give them a fighting chance. Treatment will be done at the rescues expense- we will not put the dog down until after the stray hold expires but we can give them medication to make them comfortable and start treatment to heal them. Should an owner step forward the dog would be released back to them at no charge to the owner for any vet bills. The idea is to give the dogs a fighting chance at life. We would also like for HCPHES to vaccinate (distemper and DHPP) when a rescue tags them- again this will be paid by the rescue even if the owner comes forward.

Randy Wallace has been working undercover for over a month on this story. Many of the other shelters allow us to pull before the stray hold is up so that the animals can be given immediate medical attention and saving their lives, Harris County needs to do the same. We hope that people who see this story will join us in the fight to stop this ridiculous rule and will join us in Commissioners Court to have this changed.
This will give Justice to HOPE and HOPE to all the others sitting at the shelter that need medical attention.

Randy Wallace the undercover investigator who has been working diligently on this case for over a month will be airing his story tonight on FOX 26 ( Houston area) at the 9pm evening news. Commissioners Court is going to be on the 17th of May.

281-999-3191 Division Director Dawn Blackmar DVM 612 Canino Rd. 77076
281-999-3191 Field Operations Supervisor Marianne Hay 612 Canino Rd. 77076
281-999-8531 Health Education Coordinator Colleen Hodges 612 Canino Rd. 77076
281-999-3191 Shelter Opeations Administrator Danielle Acosta 612 Canino Rd. 77076
281-999-3191 Veterinary Operations Supervisor 612 Canino Rd. 77076
281-847-1911 Fax-Animal Control 612 Canino Rd.



Hope, a Bassett Hound in need of obvious medical care

Editor’s Note: It can’t be said often enough …
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
– Mahatma Gandhi



  1. I have a hard time anyone would turn this dog away. They need to change their views in that county. So heartless!

    • This is the most disgusting story of humanity I have ever witnessed! This is worse even than most animal abuse cases I have seen because this had layers of failure from high ranking city and county officials that did nothing to help. They had the ability to step in and intervene but chose not to. I am sure they will say because of policy they were not, but they were. A decent human being would have stepped in and override policy no matter what the consequences none the less and these people, some in elected positions did not? Hope’s death cannot just bring a change and reform to this inhumane policy. Her death needs to bring about the end of these people’s careers in public service altogether. Every shelter has a stray hold policy, but I have seen and witnessed shelter managers override that policy in cases where the animal needed emergency medical treatment. Not only is that just humane, it is just common sense, common sense that people in this community lacked to step in. Thank God at least this rescue tried to do something for this dog! The mayor has a responsibility to the whole community and it does not just involve people. This mayor cannot be reelected and should resign I feel immediately! This is a total abuse of the power the community gave to her and her inability to make the right choices with that power should not keep her in office. This does not just affect animal rescue groups, this affects everyone. This at any time could be anyone’s stray pet being neglected in a shelter and unable to be given medical treatment or any meds to relieve it’s suffering. It is a problem for everyone to address and this point and when it does make a reform, Hope cannot be forgotten as victim who the system and community failed. I would hope my community would not fail my pet or any animal like this and I hope it never happens anywhere again. But we cannot leave it up to hope, we have to make sure it changes because of her.

  2. please , lets make sure that shelters n animal control
    Places aré requiered to provide Medical
    Attention to pets in need.

  3. This is just unbelievable, that a country like the United States, will allow this to happen. If a dog or cat, is injured, they should be treated, immediately. The Rescues should be allowed to take them, and the owners, if they care, can find their animals there at the rescue. But look at the pain that this girl had to have been in, and made to suffer, for days. This cost her, her life, because of some stupid rule. Harris County, sounds very non-compassionate, and this is wrong. WE need to set a example, for all of the other Countries, to follow. This is certainly not one of them. We need more compassion for our animals, show them love, and caring. These are gifts to us from God, who else do you know that has unconditional love for all, your right, “GOD”. So look at our animals, and how they love us, what does this tell you. WE need no-kill shelters, we need to place all of these babies, in wonderful, and loving homes. Stop discriminating on breeds, this is really dumb. We need to change a lot of laws, concerning our animals. Lets be first, to set by example, Texas, a no- kill state. We care and place our misplaced animals. All should be spayed and neutered. Please, look at that baby girl, this is so sad.

  4. i am appalled about learning this basset hounds story. there is nothing humane in this. we as human beings have a obligation to relieve suffering , learn to change rules and be more flexible as individual cases occur. we can not get caught up in bureaucracy. life is not black and white. this animal possibly if was treated in a timely manner could have been saved and adopted out, lastly it is not acceptable to allow something living to suffer. if it is acceptable in your book what does that say about you??

  5. This is exactly why I sent free tickets to our Building a No Kill Community workshop to the person who runs this facility as well as every single county commissioner. The “shelter” director did NOT attend (she did not attend our workshop in 2009 either). Two people from one of the County Commissioner’s office came but left before 10:00 am. I think this should give us a pretty clear picture about how our elected county officials feel about humane care for our shelter pets.

    It is unconscionable that the leader of an animal “shelter” would force this dog to suffer for 3 whole days. I think it is fairly clear that this person should not be running an animal shelter.

    Harris County commissioners make decisions about this facility and they are our elected officials. If they do not represent our values, we should remember this during the next election.

  6. Please Please allow groups to come in and help these poor babies. There is no reason for there babies to suffer when the rescues are willing to help at no cost. Please change your policy!

  7. I have to say if poor Hope was in such bad shape when she was found the humane thing would of been to send her gently to the rainbow bridge not let her supper for 72 hours. The comments toward the shelter people can’t be printed

  8. bless her heart!!!! that poor baby. praying that we do indeed get justice for hope! this is soooo not right!!!!

  9. This same thing happened with a Greyhound that The Greyhound Adoption League of Texas tried to help. He was held with minimal care for the 72 hour stray hold then when he was released he was too far gone

    GALT is trying to fix the stray hold requirements in Tarrant county because of Braden

  10. I am outraged that the officials involved- denied care to Hope. While I understand the legalities of the 72 hour hold- to deny care that would be paid for by the rescue and not charged to the owners if found is criminal. What kind of people are running Harris County? Have they no compassion..no empathy…no common sense? They are definitely not shining examples of leadership. Every last one of them should be fired or voted out of office. There are enough scumbags in the world-without having them sit in positions of control and power, too! Glad I don’t live there! What an embarrassment!

    • Well Harris County is run by some real winners…The City of Houston should be ashamed to be connected to such a bunch of idiots…Maybe if Texas was not so backwards and took after California in terms of its animal rights..the rest of the country wouldn’t think we are a bunch of hillbillies..

  11. There seems to be a cut-off between the words human and humane. That any human would stand by and watch/allow a creature to suffer is despicable and should be jailed. It is abuse plain and simple,

  12. All I can say is …Have a heart! Let those who can help – help. Let those who love – love. And let those who have a heart give their hearts, love and asssitance to these precious animals who cannot speak for themselves.

  13. Absolutely disgusting. How can anyone do this to another creature with the full knowledge that they are in pain, and even dying? What was the point in not releasing her early? To assert their legal power, or to prove some sort of twisted point?

    Shame on the shelter! And shame on the legislations that are so inadequate in saving our fellow friends.

    RIP Hope, so glad you knew a little love before you passed.

  14. How can anyone be so heartless! The moment I saw her picture I thought….Man, I would have drove far and wide to pick this dog up for medical attention and then I would have taken her to my home “for keeps”!!! There is hundreds of people that would have done the same. Shame on the “HOLDERS”! Cruelty to animals is a reflection on yourself…..I have always believed that God has a place in heaven for animals…I know, because he said so in his word. Thank God, Hope is in peace and running w/ all my precious animals that have passed! I know they are having a great time!

  15. Harris County and too many other so-called “shelters”, are in reality, nothing more at best, than holding pens until the executioners swiftly rid themselves of the inconvenience of having to show some real caring and compassion for sentient creatures, whose only “sin”, because of ignorance and apathy, have unfortunately being dumped in the shelters. It should be required training of all shelter and animal care facilities personnel, to take sensitivity training, such as looking in the eyes of these animals, watching their body language, yes…body language, and mostly, learning to try to feel the difference between a sweet act, whether a kiss on the nuggin, a pat on the head, a doggie cookie, a brushing, and just passing by without a look or acknowledgment. These sweet animals do not ask for much, but boy!! the returns are unbelievable!

  16. That is just ridiculous. We pull animals from the shelter here in Austin all the time that come in as strays and need medical help so the fact that this shelter director lets animals lie there and suffer is not only unnecessary it is also cruel and barbaric.

  17. Un FREAKIN Believable !!!!! CAN anyone near there protest outside the shelter to garner media attention to the plight?

  18. I have 2 Pomeranians. They are my children. They get sad, happy, scared. They miss me when Im gone and they get excited when I get home. They have a soul. Any human that could look at any type of animal and not feel some kind of compassion should NOT be ALOUD to be around them. Laws need to be placed to help the animals because they cannot speak up for themselves. Just because you cannot understand their language does not mean they do not have a voice. They feel pain. To let them sit in a cage and be scared, and hurt and suffer the way this shelter does they should have animal cruelty charges pressed against them. I started to cry when I saw her picture. I wish that the people who run this shelter soon find what it feels like to be hurt, scared, cold and alone and beg for help and none comes. How can they go home at night and feel good about who they are. Laws are in place to protect animals. Why are they aloud to get away with abuse, neglect, and torture? I dont get it.

    • I think its time to bring in to question the words ‘humane’ and ‘humanity’. What’s happened to humans is, we are human. Human beings have grown over the ages to believe in their inherent superiority, and therefore importance, over all other beings. This attitude it fostered in everything we do, say, produce, destroy, create.
      If this is humanity. I don’t want to be one anymore.

  19. How and who do we contact? It’s great to complain here at this website, but the people at this shelter aren’t reading this site.. I clicked on the links of the names of the people but there isn’t a way to email them… What can we actually do? This is horrible we all agree, let’s make a difference for all the future dogs in this same predicament!

    • Hi Lana, the contacts are listed in the article; apparently, Harris County doesn’t publish an email for them, but the address and phone number are listed.


    I just hope that Hope is not old news tomorrow, please post this artical every day until we get answers…….

  21. I too have had a similar experience. The dog I got out had been shot in the shoulder. The wound was infected and obviously never looked at. The hair was matted with old blood, never cleaned, infected and his poor bladder was so full it had to be manually expressed by the vet. He also had a urinary tract infection along with his infected gunshot wound. He was weak and dehydrated and in much pain but never growled and always wagged his tail. This was about a year ago so this has been SOP for Harris County for a long time. I did not want to make much fuss due to possibility of it coming back on the rescue that allowed us to pull this Akita. This has to stop. MCAS would never let this happen so not all county shelters are like Harris County.

  22. People need to contact members of the Public Health committee and ask that they set a hearing for HB 3450.
    This bill, if passed, would make this “shelter’s” activities illegal in Texas.
    Please do it today. The legislative session is almost over in Texas.
    Here are their email addresses:
    Lois.Kolkhorst@House.State.TX.US; Elliott.Naishtat@House.State.TX.US; District145.Alvarado@House.State.TX.US; District147.Coleman@House.State.TX.US; Sarah.Davis@House.State.TX.US; Veronica.Gonzales@House.State.TX.US; Susan.King@House.State.TX.US; Jodie.Laubenberg@House.State.TX.US; Charles.Schwertner@House.State.TX.US; Vicki.Truitt@House.State.TX.US; John.Zerwas@House.State.TX.US; Jessica.Farrar@House.State.TX.US

    People should also to contact Dawn Blackmar’s superior’s and tell them that her actions are unacceptable.

    I would contact Harris County commissioners. These are our elected officials that run Harris County. We should demand better.
    Here is their contact information:

    Harris County Judge Ed Emmett
    Email: judge.emmett@cjo.hctx.net

    Harris County Commissioner Precinct 1
    El Franco Lee
    No email address listed.

    Harris County Commissioner Precinct 2
    Jack Morman
    Email: jack.morman@pct2.hctx.net

    Harris County Commissioner Precinct 3
    Steve Radack
    Email: pct3@hctx.net

    Harris County Commissioner Precinct 4
    Jerry Eversole
    Email: JerryEversole@hcp4.net
    No number is listed.

    • This is a copy of the email I sent to Judge Emmett’s office, and the reply that I received. These people have no clue. I have already responded to this ignorant person and am waiting for another reply.

      Dear Ms. Welch:

      Thank you for contacting Judge Emmett regarding the FOX report on the Harris County Veterinary Public Health Division. Certainly, I can appreciate your concern, however, I have spoken to the Director of Public Health and have been assured Dr. Blackmar is caring for the animals in an appropriate humane manner.

      The FOX report focused on a single basset hound. It is my understanding this dog arrived at the shelter with a chronic injury to the leg. The veterinarian on duty treated the wound topically and gave the animal medication to relieve the pain. After observing the dog for several days, it was determined the wound would not heal. After thorough medical evaluation it was determined that Hope would need to have the leg amputated and several skin grafts with no guarantee that the dog would survive. Thus euthanasia was recommended.

      Each animal is examined for medical issues upon its arrival. The shelter’s policy is to hold the animals for three days so that legitimate owners will have the opportunity to claim their pets. Information is posted on the shelter’s website to facilitate the owners finding their pets. After three days, the shelter sends emails to some of the rescue groups they work with, to further inform of particular breeds and adoptability. Those groups may place a hold on the animal until one of their volunteers can arrange to pick up the animal.


      Kathy Luhn

      Chief of Staff

      From: Melody Welch [mailto:melodywelch@sbcglobal.net]
      Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2011 4:47 PM
      To: Judge Emmett (County Judge’s Office)
      Subject: Harris County Shelter

      Judge Emmett,

      I have always admired and respected you, and hope that you will not let me down on this. The matter of Dr. Blackmar and the policies at the shelter are a huge problem. This woman should not be a vet. Obviously, she has no business treating animals. She has total disdain for their health and well-being. These animals need to be protected and helped if there is a chance for them to find a home. When a rescue is wanting to save and treat these animals, it is ridiculous that these people make the choice to let them suffer and die instead. Please see fit to investigate this. Fox 26 has already done their own investigation on them, and they retaliated by killing another dog that was slated for rescue. There response of course is that there was a mix-up and they didn’t show that a rescue was available. There needs to be a huge shake-up in the people running this place, and caring and humane people should be put in charge.

      This is not going away anytime soon, and it needs to be addressed before it gets even more embarrasing for Harris county. We will not let this go without something changing.

      Thank you for your time.

      Melody Welch

  23. It is in-humane to let a dog suffer the way they did. I wonder how they would feel if a loved one needed medical treatment and they were told they would have to wait 72 hours.

  24. We picked up our puppy at Bastrop Texas shelter early due to Parvo. We were able to drive our pup home to our vet just in the nick of time, due to the shelter releaseing our baby early. Don’t you think this could have happened the same way here? The dog needed immediate attention… When it comes to the life of the animal, they should come first… It is up to the officials hired to made the snap decition required to save a life… Our baby is alive because of a snap decition, think about it…..

  25. Except have you seen the care that they provide for the animals shelters in California?? Lancaster and OC really upset me. To put it simply – America all together needs to get IT together and provide better care, homes, and lives for these sweet heaven sent furry critters. I’m sick and tired of the U.S. Treating our animals in this way and letting them suffer and die. Excuse me, but I thought the whole idea of shelters are to relieve, heal, and rehabilitate animals so they too can have a second chance at love and a happy forever home. This whole country is an embarrassment and things NEED to change. For as much as we try to dictate and criticize other countries for how they run things, we sure need to take a good look in the mirror and learn that we are no better than them, if not worse! I am so fed up in living in a country/world where animals lives arent valued nor appreciated. What would God say if he saw us now? Breaks my heart.

  26. If you see a kid or anyone on the street with an injury, you ask if they need help, you offer to take to the hospital… If we see a dog under this conditions (or any animal) and do nothing about it because someone that didn’t care about the animal (owner)may pick him/her up…it’s ridiculous! Oh my! Even a person going to jail gets medical attention before goin in if required right?? Laws, rules, process, procedures or whatever this “hold” is called it has to change! SO SAD!

  27. Bless that poor baby’s heart. I hope she’s in a happy, healthy place now–and glad that at least at the end someone showed her love and compassion. Blessings to the rescuers and the work they do.

    The people responsible for this are going to have some really tough karma down the road–10X what Hope suffered. In the meantime, let’s get these policies changed.

  28. This is beyond unconscionable. Property?!?!? That dog was a living sentient being. No one was asking for one taxpayer dime to save her life – or at least ease her pain. WTH Texas??? “It’s like a whole other country” sure is the right tagline for your ads. And that other country is a third world one.

  29. I thought shelters were there to help the animals, not to make them suffer.

    just help the animals right away they are not PROPERTY live are living feeling animals!

  30. This is not a “Shelter” but a county organized animal abuse group.
    To leave any animal without care is unGodly.

  31. This is awful, the policy should be changed. I don’t understand why they can’t use common sense, this animal and I’m sure many others in this situation are in pain. Why deny them treatment?

  32. What is wrong with these people,It is our responsibility to take care of the animals.I believe God created these animals to teach us compassion and love and patience There is No excuse for the uncaring horrible excuse for a human being-I hope to God these people never have children- I do hope at the end of their days -they are treated how they have treated the poor animals brought to the shelters and and someone gives them a lame excuse as to why they can’t help them.At the end then they should be drop-kicked down to Hell with the rest of Horrible humans!

  33. How any veterinarian could let this poor animal lay for 3 days, when she obviously needed dire medical attention, is beyond my comprehension! This veterinarian should read her oath again and rethink her “treatment” methods. There was nothing whatsoever appropriate or humane in her treatment.

    The only “HOPE” she had at that shelter was her name! Guidelines are fine but in severe situations like this, guidelines are just that……the individual case should warrant whatever is necessary for the most humane treatment of the animal. She should have been turned over to the rescue that was willing to give her the medical attention and comfort she so direly needed. The rescue’s contact information could have been given to the owner if they actually showed up to get her. Obviously, no one cared here but the rescue group! At least she got to run over the rainbow bridge and hopefully remember at least one human in her life that might have loved her. This shelter failed her miserably. I wish I’d never seen this story because I will never ever forget it!

    Teresa Welch
    Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

  34. I am saddened that not one single human being at the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Svcs. had the common decency to step up and make a “logical and realistic” decision based upon Hope’s Injury. I am curious what does the “Public Health” represent in their title. There needs to be laws enacted where emergency care is top priority when an animal is found requiring medical care. The least that should have been done was to allow Basset Buddies to examine Hope and render a professional opinion and then treat Hope as necessary while she was to meet the 72 hour hold requirement. This would seem to be a satisfactory resolution where Hope would have the chance to run again on earth and not over the rainbow bridge as she did.

  35. Is the ASPCA to busy with there TV shows to help with this I think that Shelter should be fined and investigated for other inhumane treatment.

  36. No excuse for the actions of the so called dr dawn blackmar…..hopefully with some help this can be changed !!

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