Cameras help police crack down on animal cruelty

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Houston police are having success in their effort to crack down on a disturbing problem in northeast Harris County.

For years, an area off Highway 59 and Little York has been plagued by rampant illegal dumping. The area has also been dubbed the "corridor of cruelty" because of the myriad live and dead animals dumped on the side of the road.

To help crackdown on this problem, the Houston Police Department installed hidden cameras in the area last January to catch illegal dumping.

Police surveillance video reviewed by Local 2 showed, in addition to illegal trash dumping, two different instances of women dumping live dogs into the middle of debris-laden streets.

"You have to realize these animals are used to living in people's homes and they're not used to being let out there. It kind of aggravates me when people dump them off and think, 'Oh, they can just take care of themselves,'" Harris County prosecutor Eugene Hong said.

Hong said the cameras were invaluable in successfully prosecuting Maria Moreno, 33, and Maria Coronado, 63, on charges of animal cruelty by neglect. Hong said since the cameras were installed, police have been able to make five cases a week involving people illegally dumping everything from tires to sofas to boats.

"The cameras eliminate the need for an officer to sit out there around the clock and watch for people illegally dumping because unless somebody sees them and reports it, we pretty much cannot make those cases," said Hong. "People expect CSI, we can get fingerprints. It does not happen."

Hong said the program has been so successful that HPD is now trying to add more cameras to other streets in this area of town.

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