Dog Day Afternoon. Evening and Morning, Too.

A puppy run over by a lawn mower. A stallion shot in the neck. A pit bull puppy with 13 broken bones after being beaten by its owner. Houston has plenty of animal cruelty stories, many of them documented on the Discovery Channel’s Animal Cops: Houston program. The show paints a depressing picture of a city of depraved animal abusers. At least, that was my impression before moving to Space City a few weeks ago. Sure, I’d heard about the car-jackings and murders, but “Animal Cops: Houston” really struck fear in me. At least you can understand why someone would jack a Lexus. But run over a puppy with a lawn mower? That plunges such depths of the human condition that we might need Michael Vick to explain it to us.

Then, I took a stroll around my new digs in Rice Village and discovered that, at least in my corner of Houston, animals have it pretty darn good. When I saw the Pampered Pet Inn on Bissonnet, I laughed. According to the Web site, the Inn “provide[s] a civilized environment for our dog and cat guests” by piping in classical music. But then, a block over, on South Boulevard, I found Carlisle’s Salon & Suites, “a salon for pets.” In Montrose, there’s Fat Cat Flats, “a luxury boarding resort and grooming spa for cats only.” I counted four animal hospitals within two miles of each other. Houston suddenly seemed like the pet equivalent of a luxury retirement village in Florida.

Then again, many animals don’t have it so great in Houston. So what explains the disparity between the animal cruelty stories in the media and the swanky lifestyles of pets in West Houston? I called the Houston SPCA, but, after being transferred to various departments, I never got an answer. Perhaps the investigators were too busy responding to the 12,000 reports of animal cruelty and neglect they get in an average year to talk about pet salons and spas. – Russell Cobb

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