Katy City Council saw some contention over a rule suspension to allow council members to hear more than three public comments regarding animal control during its second council meeting of 2021. …
Katy City Council saw some contention over a rule suspension to allow council members to hear more than three public comments regarding animal control during its second council meeting of 2021. Council also approved zoning changes to allow three more churches into the city.
Council members heard from three speakers in the public comments portion at the beginning of the meeting regarding concerns over the city’s Animal Control department. Recent videos and discussions posted to social media have residents unhappy about the treatment of animals by the department. Public speakers that called into the virtual meeting expressed dismay and disappointment at the department’s lack of direct adoption services, among other concerns. Callers also offered services to help promote animal adoptions if a program were to be set up. Each caller had concerns regarding the program’s operations.
“There are no protocols that you actually have, in effect, you have somebody there that’s running the place that obviously has no experience that’s putting to sleep – or let me just state it the way it is – that’s murdering animals before they’re even being chipped or checked for (tracking microchips). You have no adoption protocols. In effect – you make no efforts whatsoever to find these animals homes. You have no adoption protocols in place,” said Ellen Schutz, an attorney from Dallas who had heard about the city’s animal control issues.
One video posted to social media showed Katy Animal Control officers discussing disposal of euthanized felines in “any city dumpster.”
Katy’s Animal Control Department currently transfers adoptable pets to local rescue organizations, when possible, to have those animals adopted.
As a fourth speaker began commenting regarding Katy Animal Control, City Attorney Art Pertile of Olson & Olson reminded council members that, according to Katy City Council’s rules, only three people could speak on an issue not on the agenda per meeting.
Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris then motioned for the rules to be suspended regarding the issue after which Council Member Janet Corte motioned to amend his motion to not allowing additional comments.
“My comment is since this is going to be on the Feb. 8 agenda, that all of these comments be postponed until we are actually discussing the topic,” Corte said. “Because then these comments could be made, at the time, on the (agenda) item where we have comments on any item on the agenda.”
After deliberating and clarifying the rules for processing such motions, council agreed, in a split vote with Corte dissenting, to hear the one additional comment from a speaker who also supported the city doing more to prevent euthanasia of animals in its shelter and adopting more humane practices.
Animal control is expected to be discussed more formally at Katy city Council’s Feb. 8 meeting to be held at 4 p.m. that day. In the meantime, Mayor Bill Hastings has issued an announcement acknowledging the need for improvements.
“We understand there are some concerns circulating through the community regarding our Animal Control Department,” Hastings said in the statement. “We have begun addressing some of the concerns. We will be extending the period that animals are kept in the city shelter to seven days, including domestic dogs and cats and feral cats. We are pursuing options to house feral animals separately from the domestic animals. We will keep you informed as we address additional concerns.”
The Katy Police Department, which oversees the city’s Animal Control Department, said in a statement prior to the meeting that it will be extending animal hold times, consider expanding the shelter and compassionate care guidelines, forming a “Citizen and Veterinary Advisory Board” which would meet twice a year to discuss improvements and review legislative changes, partner with neighboring cities, update the animal control media page, establish a list of volunteers and associated policies, develop standard operating procedures that would regularly be updated and maintained to improve animal care and investigate all policy violations.
“Collectively, our goal is to provide compassionate animal care, and to ensure every animal that has an encounter with Katy Animal Control is treated humanely, both in the field and in our kennel, and ultimately finds a permanent home,” the statement read.
Council also approved zoning changes to allow two churches within city limits. The unanimous votes by council allows Iglesia Rios De Aceite – or the Rivers of Oil Church – to be located at 541 Pin Oak Road in Katy and Gateway Church to be located at 25024 Katy Mills Drive in the old Toys ‘R Us building.
The zoning changes or exceptions allowed the churches to go into a commercial district and a planned development district, respectively, according to City Planner Annas Garfaoui.
A third zoning adjustment will allow Katy ISD to continue operating its outdoor learning center near Katy High School. The property, which has housed the learning center was zoned as an industrial area, but after council’s vote was changed to a residential district which allows schools to operate.
Several members of council also expressed their congratulations and pride for the Katy Tigers football team’s championship win.
Council members also: