Council Hears Animal Control Concerns

By George Slaughter

Katy City Hall

The Katy City Council heard from citizens concerned about the city’s animal control policies at its Monday afternoon meeting.

“I’ve heard about the issues going on with animal control right now,” Ellen Schutz of Dallas, who is both an animal rights activist and attorney, said. “There are no protocols that you actually have in effect. You have somebody there that is running the place that obviously has no experience, murdering animals before they are chipped or checked for chips. There is no adoption protocol in effect.”

Three other speakers volunteered to assist the department in its treatment and housing of animals.

Mayor Bill Hastings said that the council was not allowed to expound or answer during the public comments portion of the meeting. City Secretary Becky McGrew said citizens wishing to volunteer or offer feedback should email, or to reach the council,

That four individuals spoke to one issue is in itself unusual. Council rules permit no more than three speakers on a particular topic unless the council votes to suspend the rules, which it did.

The animal control issues have been an ongoing topic of community discussion, both on social media and at City Hall. At its January 11 meeting, the city installed a camera at the Katy Dog Park in an effort to reduce stray and abandoned dogs in Katy.

Hastings issued a statement January 18, expressing his confidence in the animal control department. “We understand there are some concerns circulating through the community regarding our animal control department,” the statement said in part. “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.”

The animal control department issued its own statement January 22, saying it would extend minimum hold time for incoming animals, develop shelter expansion ideas and compassionate care guidelines, and form a citizen and veterinary bond advisory board to discuss improvements and legislative changes, among other things.

The council is expected to review and discuss animal control policy at its February 8 meeting.

Update on Downtown Plaza

The council received an update on development of the plaza across the street from City Hall at its Monday meeting.

City officials broke ground on the development in 2019, but the coronavirus pandemic presented complications for finishing the project and drew concerns from council members. On Monday, the council was told that a power pole has been removed that had kept contractors from doing groundskeeping work. Officials expect sod to be planed in the next few days.

The plaza includes a visitor center, public restroom, and open space. A small, fenced-in public area that features photos and plaques of Katy’s history surrounds the city’s iconic water tower, which is no longer used for water purposes.

“I’m so happy this is moving forward,” Ward A Council Member Janet Corte said, adding that she looked forward to reaching a point “where it looks green.”

Recognizing the State Champions

The city issued a proclamation honoring the Katy High School football team, which won its ninth state championship on January 16, defeating Cedar Hill.

The title is the first for Katy since 2015.

Other Actions Taken

In other action Monday, the council:

  • Observed the presentation of a certificate of achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Financial Officers Association for the last fiscal year. “If there were a state championship for small city finance, our goal would be to win it,” Andy Vasquez said.
  • Amended the zoning ordinance for to allow for Crossings Community Church to operate at 1016 FM 1463.
  • Amended the zoning ordinance to allow for Iglesias Rios de Aceite (Rivers of Oil Church) to operate at 541 Pin Oak Rd.
  • Amended the zoning ordinance to allow for Gateway Church to operate at 25024 Katy Mills Dr.
  • Changed the zoning designation on a 35-acre survey in the Katy Mills Planned Development District from industrial to single-family district.
  • Approved the Katy Half Marathon, which occurs March 13.
  • Approved the 10th annual No Label Triathlon, which occurs May 15.
  • Approved the eighth annual No Label First Street 5K, which occurs June 19.
  • Approved the sixth annual Typhoon Texas Kids Triathlon, which occurs 18-19.
  • Accepted a $228 donation from the America Recycles Day Event to the Keep Katy Beautiful Board.
  • Accepted a $50 donation from Kay and Doyle Callender in memory of former City Engineer David Leyendecker to the Keep Katy Beautiful Board.
  • Approved a $10,000 annual membership dues payment to the Katy Area Chamber.
  • Approved a 15-acre final plat for Cane Island.
  • Authorized an engineering services agreement with ARKK Engineers, LLC, for on-call engineering services.
  • Passed an ordinance to prohibit parking between the East right-of-way and the west right-of-way of Pederson Road from the south right-of-way of Highway 90 to the north right-of-way of Interstate 10.