So You Have 51 Animals in Your Rented Home, Claim to Run a No-Kill Shelter and You Write Notes to Your Dead Veterinarian? Nah, No Reason to Think Those Animals Aren't Okay!
So back to Flores -- you know, the one who's "nuts": she called the Waller County Sheriff's Office asking for assistance. The Sheriff's Office call notes state that Flores "was dog sitting and the dog was injured while in her care, she continually lied to the rescue lady...to cover up the first lie. Eventually, Flores attempted to be honest with Dow, Dow took the dog to the vet and advised she would willingly release the dog to the rightful owner, not trusting Flores would do the right thing for the dog."
(The "vet" isn't named -- so we don't know if it's the vet who passed away, or the one in Mississippi, where Dow sometimes goes to law school. It certainly isn't Companion Animal Hospital of Waller, because Dow had a falling out with the vets there. See, one of the vets is apparently a "mental nut" who accused Dow of being an animal "collector." Sensing a pattern yet?).
And here's what Captian Brian Cantrell of the Sheriff's Office told us: "We have made calls to [Dow's home] and we are under the understanding, kind of by both parties, that the dog was a voluntary surrender....Ms. Dow to our understanding has paid some vet bills to treat that dog. I also know that the [Houston] SPCA has gone out there and confirmed the welfare of the dog, and made sure the dog was OK. I also know our animal control was made aware of it....Our animal control did call [Houston] SPCA to confirm...they followed up on it....We want to make sure the dog's OK. We have an obligation to do that."
Sure. But there's obligation and there's air-quotes obligation.
The HSPCA investigator who Cantrell told us visually examined the dog told Flores in emails that she could not gain access to the inside of Dow's home in order to see the dog. (In true HSPCA fashion, Flores' initial animal cruelty complaint generated an automated reply stating that HSPCA takes "animal cruelty seriously," followed by a hit-up for a donation).
Here's an email from investigator Liz Pavlicek: "I have already been out to the property and left a notice. I was unable to make contact with anyone and have not received a call yet. I will need some sort of proof that there is an injured dog there. Do you or anyone else have any photos of other evidence? I did see one yellow Lab running around that did not appear injured but I am not sure if that is the dog you are referring to."
Pavlicek later followed up with, "I spoke to the veterinarian myself so at this point I cannot pursue anything further. If you can get proof of any dirty conditions at the property where the dogs are kept then I can speak to law enforcement about taking further action."
We hope it's true that Dow has a veterinarian, and that this is the person the investigator spoke with, but color us skeptical. The bottom line is: contrary to what Cantrell told us, in none of her emails to Flores does Pavlicek ever say she personally examined the dog.
Part of our problem is that the HSPCA has been historically uncooperative with the Houston Press whenever we've sought information for stories. This may be a function of the Press not routinely busting out the kneepads for them, as certain other publications are wont to do. (Sidenote: We have similar problems, by the way, with the Houston Humane Society, who will only speak to us through a lawyer -- who rarely returns calls -- because we had the audacity to write about a lawsuit one of their employees filed against the shelter director. In fact, it's been a generally accepted local media practice to scrutinize the dickens out of government-run shelters while giving passes to HHS and HSPCA).
We hope Max is OK. And he might be. Dow really might be a miracle-worker, out there in her home in the country, where she has apparently been in custody of up to 51 animals at a time without any discernible source of income. We'd love to call her back and see if she'd send us a picture of Max, but, frankly, we're just too afraid she'll call INS on us.