This past week and a half many people followed the story of the 5 seized horses in Texas City. This is often followed by numerous questions by the public such as “Why can’t anyone rescue them? How do seizures work? Why does it take so long?” It is not so simple as getting a phone call and going to get the horses. Laws must be followed so justice can be fully served.
Nonprofit animal welfare agencies in Texas don’t have the power to do seizures. We work through law enforcement officers under the guidelines of city, county and state law. While we can document, file against and remove any animal that is being subject to physical and/or mental abuse, our ability to do so is given to us by the courts on an individual case basis.
First we file civil charges under the direction of the court. That allows us to remove all the animals on the property immediately. Under Texas law a hearing is held within 10 days and the Judge has the authority to deliver the horses into our hands. If asked, we will then help the law enforcement agency bring criminal charges against the previous owner.
Here is a video of a seizure by Habitat for Horses so you can get a better understanding of how the process works: