By Gillian Taylor | Staff Writer
Baylor’s Animal Rescue Club has made it a goal to free several dogs it found being kept in chicken-coop-like cages just outside of campus.
The club strives to help limit the number of strays in Waco, whether it be through educating, volunteering at animal shelters or providing care for strays found on the streets.
Newburgh, N.Y., junior Francesca Chillino is the officer of educational and adoption events for Baylor’s Animal Rescue Club. She said she first discovered the dogs two weekends ago by accident while driving around following a stray dog she was trying to help; when the stray dog turned down Bagby Avenue, she saw around 10 dogs “cramped” in small cages on the corner of Bagby Avenue and S 19th Street.
“As soon as they saw us, they went crazy, barking and howling,” Chillino said. “I assume they haven’t been around very many people.”
Chillino said she couldn’t see if the dogs had food or water, but they looked distressed and were “packed” in cages that were too small and provided little to no protection.
“The dogs are obviously exposed to all the elements, whether that be wind or rain or extreme temperatures — hot or cold,” Chillino said. “They just look like they have no quality of life.”
Chillino said she didn’t believe the stray dog she was initially following belonged to the owners of the house on Bagby Avenue because it was a different breed than those in the cages. She said the only dogs she saw in the cages were hounds, which is why she thinks the owner may be breeding them for profit.
Chillino said her first reaction was to message Baylor’s Animal Rescue Club group chat to brainstorm what they could do.
Houston senior Allie Barnett said when she first received the message and photos, she knew she had to call animal control.
“We had a bunch of members contact animal control, but it turns out animal control was already familiar with the situation and have been called to the house multiple times,” Barnett said.
Barnett said an animal control worker said they — along with the owners and the Humane Society — have worked to correct all violations, such as making the owners put a tarp over the cages around a year ago. Barnett said she assumed this was to provide shade and weather protection; however, she said she felt like this wasn’t enough to ensure quality of life for the dogs.
Nella, a neighbor who lives a few doors down from the house, said that she has lived on the block for seven years and that the dogs have been there as long as she has. She also said she hasn’t met the neighbors who own the dogs and has never seen the owners take them out of the cages.
Chillino said Baylor’s Animal Rescue Club is at a standstill and has been thinking of ways to further help the dogs. However, since the owners are no longer violating any laws, there is no legal action they can take to help the dogs, and animal control can no longer get involved.
“All we can do is try to raise awareness,” Chillino said. “We hope that either the laws change to make it illegal for them to treat animals like that or that the owners have a change of heart and stop abusing them.”