As a community of rescuers supporting the greater Houston area, we see abuse, neglect and outright cruelty to animals every day. We often find ourselves wondering if our efforts are making a difference. We see so many cruelty cases. Often the perpetrator is not brought to justice, but sometimes they are. It’s these cases that bring hope that the world is changing. We are witnessing more and more cases for cruelty or neglect being prosecuted.
The story of a dog named “Republic” is one such case. Republic was a starving and gravely ill dog whose owner, Donna E. Hubbard, tried to dump on the side of the road. Concerned citizens saw the crime, confronted Hubbard, and begged her to take Republic to a shelter. They also filmed the entire interaction. On the video, Hubbard begrudgingly agrees, tosses Republic’s lifeless body into the back of her truck, and claims she will follow the distressed couple to the shelter.
While en route, Hubbard stops following the witnesses and finds another place to dump the dog. Realizing they are the dog’s only hope, the couple then utilized the power of social media to reach out to the hundreds of rescue groups in Houston. Chip N Snip rushed to action and immediately set out to search for the dog. Fortunately, Chip N Snip was able to locate Republic and get her to a veterinary emergency center. After two full weeks in ICU, Republic recovered, but her story was only beginning.
The video presented law enforcement officers with enough information to investigate and present an animal cruelty case. Once the police were involved, they were able to uncover more information about Republic’s owner as well. After the case was presented to the Harris County DA’s office, they filed formal charges, and Hubbard was arrested.
It seemed as though Republic’s owner would be held accountable for her crimes. Deborah Wrigley of ABC 13 was in the courtroom for the Probable Cause hearing. Following the reading of the charges against Donna E. Hubbard, the judge says very clearly “Sounds like overkill to me.”
“Overkill” is how the judge, Ronald C. Nicolas, sees the charges. “Overkill” is the word he used to describe justice against a heinous case of animal cruelty. With a single word, Nicolas impeded the mission of the rescue world to end animal cruelty.
As we fight to better the lives of companion animals through better laws and continued efforts to rescue those in needs, it’s important we have elected officials in place who share our compassion for these animals. It’s equally important we have judges in place who will uphold the laws, regardless of their personal feelings. We cannot afford judges who view charges of animal cruelty as “overkill.” The only “overkill” is allowing this to continue.
Republic’s story is proof that sometimes speaking up is not enough. Sometimes we have to speak loudly. Ronald C. Nicolas is an appointed judge. As a rescue community, we need to rise up as a single loud voice and declare these cases are not overkill. The Harris County District Attorney is willing to prosecute, so now we need make sure elected officials understand how strongly animal welfare will affect our voting choices. These cases are important not only to us but to the world as a whole. The inhumane treatment of animals reverberates through all of society. Holding people accountable for cruelty or neglect is crucial. We will no longer sit quietly and hope that justice will be served. We will demand it, and we will not stop fighting until we see change.
If you’re asking what more you can do, #Speakup.
Report cases of suspected cruelty:
Speak to your elected officials, call them, email them, get out and meet them, let them know how important animal welfare is to you. Each of us has a chance to speak up and be a voice for those who have none.
Texas Humane Legislation Network (THLN) is a great resource for knowing what new laws are being pushed. They also provide scorecards of animal voting records during election season. Join their volunteer network.
In order to effect change, it requires us to be active. Republic and every other dog who suffers are worth it.