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Lives on the Line

Animal control and welfare work can be dangerous. How can we reduce the risks?

When animal control officer Bobby Evans reported for duty at the Bellmead Fire Department on June 18, 2007, he probably expected it to be a typical Monday morning. After checking in around 8:30 a.m., Evans—the lone ACO for the community located near Waco, Texas—headed to the shelter to check on the animals. When Evans failed to respond to radio calls, Bellmead fire chief James Karl went to the pound around 10 a.m. to check on his officer, only to discover that he’d been murdered—shot in the back multiple times.

With no evidence of a struggle and no recent threats, authorities were at a loss. Texas Rangers and the FBI quickly joined in the investigation, hoping that a combined law enforcement effort would help find his killer. As the reward fund built to more than $20,000—with donations from the Texas Animal Control Association, The HSUS, the National Animal Control Association (NACA), and others—the case was featured on America’s Most Wanted in September 2007. A break led investigators to two suspects already in jail on unrelated drug charges. James Ramirez and Jerry Newland Jr. were later charged and convicted of Evans’ murder. Newland was sentenced to life in prison while Ramirez was sentenced to serve 90 years.

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