Animal Heros - Animals Cops Houston
An interview with Max Mixson - Part 2
Story by Sherri Barclay

When we last left our animal super heroes we were told of a world of neglect and abuse that they witness on a daily basis. A world we as individuals can choose to ignore or offer assistance in any way we can. A world more common then we may think or care to recognize.

We pick up the interview with Mr. Max Mixson, Cruelty Investigations and Rescue Manager for the Houston SPCA. His dedication to help those animals in need when no one else will puts him at the forefront of a battle that is receiving national attention. When I asked Mr. Mixson what motivates him on a daily basis he replied; “After doing this for nearly five years and seeing the suffering that happens daily, I can’t imagine doing anything else. I do get discouraged at times, but then I’ve learned to step back and take a look at the big picture.” To expand his knowledge, Mr. Mixson has attended and completed levels I & II of the University of Missouri-Columbia Animal Cruelty Classes in Houston as well as Level I Equine Investigations School in Middleton, VA

I can only imagine how I would react to the sights of neglect when I see them on the Animal Planets series Animal Cops: Houston. Watching them at home makes me wish I was there at times to show those which caused the obvious neglect how neglect may feel. Mr. Mixson stated that when he comes across situations of obvious neglect and abuse, he has learned that controlling his anger is the best thing for everyone involved. His role is to help the animal get out of a bad situation as well as relieve its suffering. Even though the anger is definitely there he has learned to refocus it. One of the many qualities I admire him for.

Another one of the most memorable stories for Mr. Mixson and his staff was one about a foal they decided to call Miracle. A pregnant mare was found lying down at the back of a dirt lot. She was severely emaciated, her hair was falling out, and her pubic tendon was ruptured which resulted in the foal being carried much lower than normal. Some of you may remember watching this case. It looked as if the mare had a huge heavy ball just hanging down much lower than a foal should be carried. To me it looked like a water balloon when it hangs down. I was both amazed and sickened at the entire situation. How could someone do this to an animal?

After they seized the mare, several vets around the state were consulted about her condition and found the prognosis bleak for both her and her foal. Mr. Mixson said they were all then surprised when a slightly pre-mature, but otherwise healthy filly came into the world shortly after the mare was rescued by the Houston SPCA. The staff decided to name her Miracle.

Miracle was bottle fed by the staff and several volunteers around the clock because the mare could not produce any milk.

The mare developed problems from her prior neglect and after consulting the veterinary staff at Texas A&M University the decision was made to humanely put the mare down. Miracle was adopted to a loving home and is a thriving testament to the intervention of the Houston SPCA. Without the Houston SPCA, the mare and foal surely would have both suffered and died.

Additionally, Mr. Mixson stated that the owner was successfully convicted of an animal cruelty charge for the neglect done to the pregnant mare and her unborn foal. The fine was for $1,000 and he served only two days in jail. Unfortunately the sentence and fine are not what we would consider just for the pain and suffering he had caused. This also was not his first offence! This is primarily due to the fact the animals are considered property and people can treat their property pretty much how they want to. Wait a minute. Are you as confused as I am about now? These are living breathing animals that we are talking about, right? I treat my furniture better than that!

The investigations team is in the field investigating, documenting and seizing neglected and abused animals. Once in the safe care of the Houston SPCA the vets take over. The Houston SPCA employs two full time vets on their staff. They help work with all the animals that come into the SPCA. Dr. Courtney Forbes graduated from LSU in 1984 and has been with the Houston SPCA for three years. Dr. Ann Underwood is a 1995 graduate of Texas A&M University and has been on the team for one year. Both vets stated that they came to work for the Houston SPCA due to a strong desire to give something back to the community and to help with the growing issue of pet overpopulation.

Maybe you are interested in adopting a horse or other large animal yourself. These adoptions are by appointment only. To begin the process you must first fill out an application and if approved you will be notified when they have farm animal adoption day. These are typically every 4-6 weeks. You may also contact Judy Rundell whom is a volunteer and the Farm Animal Adoption Coordinator. She can be reached at 713-869-7722 ext. 188. The Houston SPCA now has their adoption applications available on the web site where it can be downloaded and sent in.

Want to become an animal super hero yourself? Well, if you have a good attitude you are on the right track! Working with animals consequently involves working with people about 75% of the time. A background in law enforcement is helpful, as is a varied base of animal knowledge. The physical requirements can also be grueling at times stated Mr. Mixson. “It takes a lot of effort to get a downed horse into a sling or to withstand 95 degree heat in a house filled with fifty or more dogs.” A college degree is also beneficial.

The Houston SPCA is always interested in hearing from qualified individuals for any job within their organization. If hired as an Animal Cruelty Investigator at the Houston SPCA, you will investigate everything across the board from hamsters to elephants. Horses, cattle, reptiles, birds, big cats and other exotics are all part of the investigative work.
If working for the Houston SPCA is not of interest to you there are many other ways we as individuals can help. Mr. Mixson stated that monetary donations are the primary way to help. There is also a group of about 450 active volunteers who help with adoption counseling, direct animal care, office work and also assist in the retail store. They can always use experienced horse people in the barn area as well. Supplies are also a way to help. You can donate towels, blankets, lead ropes, halters, feed, hay, veterinary equipment, vehicles and trailers.

For employment consideration you can fax your resume to 713-869-5857 or mail to 900 Portway Drive, Houston, TX 77024. If you are interested in offering your time or donating supplies you would contact Julie Knapp. Julie is the Director of Volunteer Services for the Houston SPCA. Her # is: 713-869-7722 ext. 129.

It is not only vets, investigators and staff that can help with animal cruelty cases and pet overpopulation. Organizations like the Houston SPCA rely on help from the general public. It is up to us to help in any way we can so that organizations like this one can continue to carry on the work they do so well. Without teams like the Houston SPCA I can only imagine the fate of thousands of animals here in Texas alone that would go un-noticed, neglected and abused until they leave this earth. A fate no animal should ever have to be put through. A fate we can help change or choose to ignore until their voices are no longer heard.

You can visit Houston SPCA at: www.spcahouston.org/spcahouston

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