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The SPCA of Texas does not have the jurisdictional authority to perform animal cruelty investigations in the City of Dallas. Dallas Police Department has the legal authority and responsibility to perform animal cruelty investigations within Dallas City limits. The SPCA of Texas can assist DPD only at their request.
In the original MOU, the SPCA of Texas provided forensic exams, court testimony, housing and medical treatment of animals involved in DPD’s animal cruelty cases. The MOU was in place from mid-2019 and ended in September of 2022, officially no longer in effect as of October of 2022.
After several years of supporting the Dallas Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Team with training and resources at no cost, the SPCA of Texas aimed to expand its reach for forensic support to additional law enforcement and animal control agencies. With DPD growing their animal cruelty team over the past several years, they were in a strong position to take on more of the services previously provided by the SPCA of Texas, freeing up the SPCA of Texas’ limited resources to serve additional areas in North Texas with forensic services. The SPCA of Texas made multiple attempts to negotiate terms for a new MOU with Dallas Police Department throughout the spring and summer, well in advance of the end date of the existing MOU. While we had multiple promising conversations with Assistant Chief Anderson throughout the spring and summer, communication from DPD became infrequent despite multiple attempts on our part.
The amendment of the MOU was discussed between DPD and SPCA of Texas, however no formal offer from DPD was made to the SPCA of Texas to officially amend and extend the MOU. The SPCA of Texas reached out to Assistant Chief Anderson multiple times to inquire about next steps, including an offer for assistance with hooved animals. Our outreach was not met with a reply.
In our opinion, no. DPD is a law enforcement agency and therefore can file any case where there is evidence of a crime being committed. DPD also has the direct authority to proceed with legal charges under local and state law to seek justice for abused animals in Dallas.
The statement that, “With the SPCA forensic veterinarian no longer available, few — if any — cases can be filed” is incorrect in our opinion. Dallas Police Department could have utilized these resources with the SPCA of Texas, as do several other law enforcement agencies within Dallas County, and DPD has chosen not to engage our services.
It is true that the SPCA of Texas is not currently providing animal cruelty investigations or other services outlined in the previous MOU for the City of Dallas. However, these services have been available if requested, just as they have been requested by other law enforcement agencies in Dallas County and throughout north Texas. The SPCA of Texas outlined our service fee during the MOU amendment negotiation process. Further, our services were not sought out by DPD or DAS (Dallas Animal Services) since August 2022, even in the last months the MOU was in effect. We are disappointed that an agreement could not be reached yet remain proud of the work we have done to support DPD and the City of Dallas in their animal cruelty investigation efforts.
In addition to the MOUs we have with Hunt and Van Zandt Counties, we perform necropsies and forensic work for other municipalities in Dallas County (Garland, Balch Springs, Irving, Farmers Branch, etc.) and for the entire state.
Investigations for Hunt and Van Zandt counties are covered from start to finish at no cost by our Animal Cruelty Investigation Unit, while necropsies and forensic work for other entities are offered at a fee. DPD has not contacted us for forensic services since August of 2022, two months prior to the MOU conclusion date.
In the SPCA of Texas’ opinion, no. DPD is a law enforcement agency and therefore can file any case where there is evidence of a crime being committed. DPD also has the direct authority to proceed with legal charges under local and state law to seek justice for abused animals in Dallas. The SPCA of Texas remains ready to assist in providing forensic support, as we do with many other law enforcement agencies within Dallas County. DPD has not contacted the SPCA of Texas for forensic services since August of 2022.
As a private non-profit, the SPCA of Texas is responsible for setting its budget in accordance with our strategic plan and as approved by our Board of Directors. Our donors make all our work possible. We maintain a host of programs and services that support our community and wish that we had unlimited resources to respond to every area. Each year as we budget, we must consider what programs and services our budget will support. Nonprofits are not immune to impacts of inflation on the costs of goods required to do our work, nor to the rising cost of living for our employees. In order to benefit as many animals, pet families and communities throughout north Texas as possible, fees were instituted for our forensic services.
In 2021, our revenues did exceed our expenses. We have a $16-17M annual operating budget (expenses), and any surplus funds that may occur in any year go to our board-designated operating reserves. These funds protect us from revenue shortfalls and unbudgeted expenses that could threaten our operations. As a community resource, we must ensure that we are able to continue operations during any unforeseen crises, including economic downturns, natural disaster responses, disease outbreaks and other similar situations.
The SPCA of Texas remains committed to helping our community’s most vulnerable pets, and Karen Froehlich has reached out to Assistant Chief Anderson on three occasions the week of January 23, including on Friday, January 27, to reopen dialogue on reestablishing our partnership for forensic services with the City of Dallas.
SPCA of Texas Response RE: Sharon Grigsby Editorial in the Dallas Morning News 1/27/2023
Today, Friday, January 27, 2023, the Dallas Morning News published an editorial written by Sharon Grigsby regarding the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the SPCA of Texas and Dallas Police Department (DPD) that the SPCA of Texas ended in September of last year. The article is unflattering, and some statements in the editorial are not accurate from our perspective.
The SPCA of Texas has some clarifications to offer:
While the SPCA of Texas certainly cannot control the content or tone of an editorial article, the organization is disappointed with how the facts were presented. The SPCA of Texas remains committed to helping our community’s most vulnerable pets, and Karen Froehlich has again reached out to Assistant Chief Anderson today, Friday, January 27 to reopen dialogue on reestablishing our partnership for forensic services with the City of Dallas.