Dog behind fence

…and tips for keeping pets safe

A Dog Makes an Exit…

Melissa was wrapping up the first week of teaching school when her three-year-old dog, Banjo, began to feel under the weather.  Melissa couldn’t get away during school hours, so she asked a friend to take the puggle—a crossbreed with the curled tail of a pug and the floppy ears of a beagle—to a vet on Austin Avenue. All was well until, as the friend opened the clinic door, Banjo slipped his collar and dashed across the parking lot and into the street.

Enter the Animal Control Officer…

Melissa’s friend chased Banjo, but the dog was too fast for her to catch. A helpful witness to Banjo’s escape act called the police, and soon Mark Moeller, who was on duty for the Animal Control Office (ACO), joined the pursuit.

Too often, Mark’s service calls involved dealing with dangerous or abandoned animals—or abusive people. Finding Banjo was important to him because he could see how much Melissa loved her dog. He knew that he’d “never give up on the search” in hopes of a happy ending. He spent hours driving through neighborhoods, and he combed a field with Melissa, calling for Banjo.

The next day, Mark spotted Banjo several times, but the skittish puggle eluded him. In the August heat, he scanned neighborhoods for hours without success.

More Than a Feeling…

On Saturday, a call came in to the ACO about a stray dog near the Bark Park. Mark explored the neighborhood near the park with no luck—until he considered the tree-filled plot between the park and a residential area on 3rd Street. “At that point, I just kind of had a gut feeling that he was there,” Mark recalls.

Thinking that a stranger’s presence might startle Banjo into bolting again, Mark asked Melissa to search that wooded area while he scouted around Southwestern University.

Sure enough, after ten minutes of searching, Melissa saw the puggle hunkered under low branches. Slowly he squirmed out of his shaded refuge and stumbled toward her with a quiet whimper. Melissa swept him into her arms.

The End of This Story…

Once she secured him in her SUV, gave him water, and made an appointment with a vet, she called Mark. “Mark had a huge smile on his face when he met Banjo,” Melissa says.

“I am just happy that their story had a happy ending,” Mark says.

The Moral of the Story…

During his two years’ service as Animal Control Officer for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department and another five for the City of Georgetown, not every job left Mark feeling so appreciated, but stories like Melissa and Banjo’s “were what kept him going.”  He coaxed cats out of gutters, rescued dogs from flood waters, removed dangerous snakes from residential areas, and handled countless other pet and wildlife nuisances.

Mark is retired now, but he still seeks to protect animals by teaching and writing about responsible pet ownership. Accidents, like Banjo slipping his leash, can happen to the most careful of pet owners, and some people, Mark found, are simply unaware of city ordinances and state laws governing pets and pet ownership. For example, it is a state law and a Georgetown ordinance for all pets to be vaccinated against rabies.

“The vaccination protects your pet if he or she comes in contact with a high-risk animal,” he says. “Coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, and bats are at high risk for contracting rabies.”

As an animal control officer, Mark also encountered abandoned and abused pets. He now hopes to prevent such heartbreaking cases of animal cruelty by making sure that pet owners know their responsibilities.

“Our pets rely on us, and they want to be loved,” Mark points out. Pet owners demonstrate their love through responsible care.

For more information on pet ordinances, contact the Georgetown Police Department and ask for Animal Services. Read up on Texas State animal laws at

Dog drinking water from water bottle

Keep Pets Hydrated This Summer

Pets, like their owners, can become dehydrated as summer temperatures escalate. “The heat of summer increases the body’s loss of water through panting and evaporative losses of breathing,” says Dr. Jensen Young of Zoot Pet Hospital, “so severe dehydration can occur much quicker as the temperature rises.” Dehydration can turn deadly, he says, especially for smaller animals and for animals losing fluids through vomiting or diarrhea.

Signs of dehydration:

1. Look inside your pet’s mouth. The tissue there should glisten, says Dr. Young. If it’s dull and tacky to the touch, then your pet could have mild to moderate dehydration.
2. Pinch up the skin between your pet’s shoulder blades. “It should return to normal immediately in a well-hydrated pet,” Dr. Young says. “As dehydration increases, the amount of time for the skin to return to normal increases.”
3. Observe your pet’s eyes. Severely dehydrated pets’ eyes are “sunken in appearance.”
4. Watch for excessive urination in cats. Cats with decreased kidney function “are losing too much water through urination,” says Dr. Young, “and it’s very difficult for them to drink enough water to keep up with daily losses.”

To prevent dehydration in pets, Dr. Young advises:

1. Keep several water sources available for pets, both indoors and outside. Change water frequently, as some pets prefer fresh water.
2. Take water along when you walk your pets.
3. Provide outdoor pets with shelter that offers both shade and ventilation.
4. Avoid activity during the heat of the day and consider bringing outside pets indoors in the early afternoon.
5. Do NOT leave pets in parked cars, even with the windows cracked, even for “just a few minutes.”
6. Monitor your pet for vomiting and diarrhea. Animals losing fluids this way can became dehydrated FAST in the summer heat.

Drama-free Pet Ownership Tips

  • Before adopting a pet, write a list of the animal’s needs, such as exercise, training, and vet visits, and make sure those needs work with your schedule and budget before you bring that adorable, fluffy companion home.
  • Research a dog’s breed to understand its emotional and physical needs before you adopt or buy that breed. For example, Labradors are highly energetic and need daily long walks or runs; otherwise, they can become depressed or restless.
  • Keep your cats indoors. Letting cats roam puts them at risk of crossing paths with aggressive animals such as stray dogs or coyotes.
  • Protect outdoor dogs from the elements. Local ordinances and state law require that owners provide a five-sided shelter to outside dogs—especially essential during Texas summers.
  • Take extra precautions during holidays, particularly on July Fourth and New Year’s Eve, when people pop firecrackers. Pets may be scared of sudden, loud noises, so make sure they are secured indoors.

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