MIDLAND, Texas (KMID/KPEJ)- A few “outraged” pet owners in Midland attended Midland City Council’s regular meeting Tuesday to speak out after a pet in the custody of Animal Services died late last week after allegedly being left for hours in a hot truck. 

Family members of the dog’s owner told ABC Big News that Sire, and American bulldog, snapped at a vet tech because he thought his owner was in danger. Sire was picked up by an animal control officer around 3:15 p.m. on June 8, for a quarantine hold. Owners said Sire seemed “uncomfortable” when he was placed in a “hot metal kennel”. Witnesses said the dog was left in the kennel, in the heat, until well after 4 p.m. while the officer reportedly “sat in an airconditioned truck writing a report”. 

The family said around 8:45 a.m. on June 9, animal services called and told them that Sire had died on his way to animal control. According to the family, a spokesperson with the City called them that same day and said the City would launch an investigation into the dog’s death and that the family would need to submit a claim if they wanted to seek reimbursement.

In light of Sire’s death, pet owners in Midland said they are “ashamed” of the state of the City’s animal services department and want to see some changes.

“An animal died yesterday in the care of animal control,” one Midland woman said as she addressed the council during the public comment portion of the meeting. “That should not happen…I expect that our City workers would be held to a higher standard.”

Another Midlander, Janet Harris, addressed the council in disbelief that the pup had perished on the City’s watch. Harris, however, seemed even more outraged that some council members were “laughing” during the public comments submitted in the meeting.

“An animal died in the heat, in custody, and everybody’s giggling and laughing about it. I want that employee fired. I want the City to revamp animal services. It’s all over TV, don’t leave your child in the car, don’t leave your pet in the car and we have an employee who drove an animal around in a hot truck, and it died. Why do we have an employee like that? And no one seems to care, maybe with the exception of Amy (Stretcher Burkes) and Dan (Corrales). I love animals and a lot of the people in Midland do too, but I’m ashamed of this city,” Harris said.

In Harris’ opinion, the City Council is more interested in building new parks rather than cleaning up some of its problems.

“We have stray animals…homeless people…trash, dirt, crime, and you think a pretty park is gonna cover that up, well, it’s not,” she said.

Both women had some ideas on actions the Council could take to make Midland a better place for animals. First, they suggested partnering with the courts to allow people assigned to community service an opportunity to work closely with the animals in the shelter. Second, they suggested that local photographers could partner with the City to take pictures of the animals available for adoption. And lastly, Harris said she’d like to see the City re-hire former Animal Services Director Ty Coleman. 

“Why did you fire someone that was so good that cared for the animals,” she questioned.

Coleman was let go in early May after the City said he did not successfully complete his one-year probation. 

Because the public remarks were not part of the actionable items on the agenda, councilmembers were not able to comment about the community’s concerns or suggestions; however, the City released the following statement about the situation:

In the afternoon of Thursday, June 8, 2023, Midland Animal Services received a call from a veterinarian clinic to investigate a dog bite of one of their employees. An Animal Services officer arrived and requested the owners of the 7-year-old Bulldog/Pitbull mix put the dog in the Animal Services vehicle, which was running with the air conditioner on in the transport compartment.

After approximately an hour of gathering bite case information on scene, the Animal Services officer returned to the Animal Services facility and found the dog deceased.

Midland Animal Services is conducting an internal review.

We have been in contact with the family and realize the impact the loss of their pet has on them. We know how important pets are as well as the importance of all animals in our community. We are and will continue to be committed to safeguarding public health and protecting animal welfare in Midland.

City of Midland