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Watkins strides into the Humane Society after our visit to the homeless camp, and, as is her pattern, cuts to the chase with little warm-up or social chitchat.

“I’m here to get some vouchers for homeless people so they can get all their dogs spayed and neutered so they can quit creating all of these dogs,” she says.

The clerk behind the counter says they’ll need internet access and a valid e-mail address.

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“They don’t have either of those, but they’ve got a lot of dogs that are breeding,” Watkins replies.

Lori Sanderson, manager of clinical services, comes out of her office, and she and Watkins quickly come to an arrangement.

Photo by Jeff Prince.

“Are they close by?” Sanderson says to Watkins. “If they’ll just pop their heads in here, I’ll be glad to take their information. I know they don’t have an address, but I need their name and contact information. I’ve done it for a lot of homeless. That’s not a problem. A lot of them don’t want the puppies and know they can barely afford the food, but homeless people love their animals, too.”

“That’s wonderful,” Watkins says.

But the clinic is booked for several weeks. Watkins realizes if she wants to get this pack of pit bulls sterilized she’s probably going to have to go get the men’s info and apply for the vouchers herself and then go fetch the men and the dogs on the day of the appointment. Will the men still be there by then? Who knows? But Watkins is willing to give it a try.

The camp is another example of how Fort Worth police and animal control staff perpetuate the problem of stray animals, she says. During our conversation with the homeless men, Watkins criticized one of them for having a dog chained to a post. “That’s cruel and against the law,” she said.

“The police told us to chain him,” the man said.

City spokesperson Diane Covey said the animal shelter’s field officers enforce the intact pet permit ordinance by advising pet owners of the “need to either obtain the intact pet permit or spay/neuter their animals.”

Watkins has tried to work with police and shelter staff in the past, but she burns bridges quickly. Her bluntness can rub people the wrong way, earning her a reputation as a rabble-rouser and making it easier for people to discredit her and blow her off. A police officer who investigated a dog complaint made by Watkins later called her back to say that he’d talked to the pet owners but hadn’t written them a citation. He wrote on his report that Watkins yelled and hung up on him.

“My delivery is not good,” Watkins said. “I’m not a highly sensitive person. People can shoot straight with me, and I don’t get offended, so it’s hard for me to understand why everyone’s not like that.”

Regardless, she said, if police would enforce the laws, the stray critter population would be eased within two years. The police officer who criticized her in the report didn’t mention that she’d made numerous prior complaints about the pet owner.

And if police enforced the laws, that would require citing massive amounts of residents with hefty fines, which can come back to bite elected officials and lead to accusations of harassing the poor. Or it would mean removing countless pets from their owners and putting all those animals in the care of an overcrowded shelter funded by taxpayers.

Watkins is pissed off at the entire system.

Animal control is just “going through the motions,” Watkins says. “They don’t care. They’re ineffective and inefficient. I’m sick of it. I can handle it myself better than they can sometimes.”

She pinpoints Bennett and Morton as the weak links.

“They’re running the shelter,” she said. “They’re the problem. You have to stop the massive intake of animals. Until you address that, we will be doing this for decades and centuries.”

4 COMMENTS

  1. Sissy is sassys sister not her aunt and we did have to take her back from there previous owners because they apparently didn’t know how to de worm a dog.they did however have sissy fixed where now she can’t have puppy’s.both parents of sissy and sassy are full blooded pit bull .my girlfriends dog is the blueheiler that was tied up who needs to be fixed.sassy won’t be getting fixed till her milk sacks are dragging the ground.but the next litters daddy will be this hundred pound blue gotti pit I’ve had my eye on.bet that!

  2. Suzette Watkins is the militant activist behind the loosly followed ‘No kill Fort Worth’ page on Facebook. Rather than try to work within the system to bring a resolution to alleged problems, the Riverside Kennel owner bullies people online, lying and amplifying issues to the point of making inaccurate libelous statements. Her ‘followers’ are blind and believe everything she says hook line and sinker, which says a lot about them too. Check her record with the City, you’ll find she and Riverside Kennel aren’t as lily white as she’d like you to believe. (An arrest for Public Intoxication at the Rainbow Lounge and various Animal Cruelty complaints for starters) I’m all for animal welfare, but not for someone who revels in tearing apart individuals and organizations while hiding behind her computer.

  3. I would encourage you to do more research. You can pull citation numbers by violation. So I’m curious who stated other wise. 810 – No rabies tag displayed canine, 812 – No city tag displayed canine, 815 – Not restrained canine, 837-01 Failure to provide food, 837-02 Failure to proved water, 837-03 Failure to provide shelter, 837-04 Failure to provide vet care, 838-13 No intact pet permit female dog/cat, 838-14 No intact pet permit male dog/cat. The municipal court can provide the number of citations issued….. Interesting how Brandon won’t comment when he might look like the bully he is, but has no problem throwing Akin under the bus to appear politically correct. “Bennett fired Akin recently but not because of surgical lapses –– the vet posted violent, anti-Islamic rhetoric on his Facebook page after last month’s ISIS attacks on Paris.”
    … Though I do not agree with the nastiness of the comments made by Akin on his FB page I thought we had the right to free speech. Akin was fired when his license was suspended. He was no longer of any use to them so he had to go. They kept Akin because he was cheap labor compared to other veterinarians. You get what you pay for and the increase of post-op surgery complications was the result. The task force is a farce. The city is only going through the motions to appear they are looking into things. Brandon and the city can brag about live release numbers all they want. Numbers can easily be manipulated. Too many animals are suffering at the shelter in the name of live release numbers.

  4. Suzette Watkins is a farce. She tops the list of do not return call lists with City Administrators/Police because of the number of outrageous claims she makes on a daily basis. I know people who have worked for her over at Riverside Kennel and quit because of the way animals are manhandled while in her care. This woman writes in 3rd person on her No-Kill Website to make people think their is indeed a board. There is no board. It’s Watkins and Watkins alone making allegations on line and calling in complaints keeping Police and Animal Control from doing real work. Next time, check into the background of the person you are trying to make into a Saint. This woman is clearly the farthest thing from that.

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