While the adoption side of Dallas Animal Services is making great strides, the city and Dallas Animal Services has not been able to address and solve the loose and stray animal issues in our neighborhoods.
In 2012 Dallas Animal Services critically injured several animals with their ineffective and inhumane catch methods. Gypsy Dog Ops was born out of the need to help the injured feral dog, Tasha the husky, and to make sure DAS policy was changed to reflect a more humane and effective Field Services program. Gypsy Dog Ops also made it part of their mission to help the neighborhood, and the city, resolve loose dogs, feral dogs, and hard to catch dogs packs . In an effort to educate city leaders and to work towards solutions, Gypsy Dog Ops put together a presentation to the city. The presentation documents long running neighborhood dog pack issues as well as documents the challenges and roadblocks residents face when using the current DAS system to address loose, aggressive, feral, or hard to catch dogs.
This set of initial meetings led to a collaboration with Gypsy Dog Ops, Councilman Scott Griggs and District 1 Animal Shelter Commissioner, Chris Watts. Through the course of our discussions, the loose animal issues seemed to continue to grow at an alarming rate, while the field services issues that we identified a year and a half ago remained the same. As the city population grows and the city begins to recover from the Great Recession, the DAS budget remains below 2008 levels.
This extraordinary circumstance has led us to today, where we like to say, “Tasha (who is the poster dog for everything that is broken with the system) is taking it to the people.” That’s where you come in. If the growing animal issues are a concern to you and to your neighborhood’s safety and quality of life, we need your voice.
The full details from the The Oak Cliff Animal Initiative Town Hall Meeting can be found on our website, but here is the general overview of our objectives for the grass roots animal initiative:
- Educate City Leadership about the issue: Mobilize citizens to contact city leaders and let them know that tax payers and voters urgently care about addressing and resolving the extraordinary safety and quality of life issues caused by animal issues in our Oak Cliff communities. Residents cannot safely walk their own neighborhoods streets for fear of loose and aggressive dogs. Motorist, joggers, children, family pets – they are all at risk. Loose animals are in our parks, at our schools, in our business districts, and in our front yards. Left unaddressed, animal issues will block growth and business development in our neighborhoods. Let city leadership know that you support the Oak Cliff Animal Initiative and that you expect leadership to address and solve the issue side by side with the people in a focused, timely manner.
- Enact change. DAS needs to have their budget restored to pre 2008 levels, but they also need to drastically revise their Field Services model to reflect more modern, efficient, behavioral sound best practices. Without this change and evaluation, the animal issues cannot be fully addressed. DAS must include animal CONTROL in their goals and service model. Dallas Animal Services and the Dallas Companion Animal Project’s (DCAP’s) number one focus and current measure of success is lowering euthanasia rates, while applaudable, the strategy is in direct conflict with actively addressing the safety and loose animal issues plaguing our neighborhoods.
- Create a venue for collaboration between DAS and the neighborhoods. DAS is the system our tax dollars has built. It is the infrastructure we need to rely on to solve the issues. Neighborhood collaboration, education, and community involvement are also keys to solving the issues. We advocate for a budget that follows the Police Department’s established model of: Prevention, Intervention, and Enforcement. This model budgets for a strong community presence along with supporting educational collateral, an effective and easy to use means of reporting and tracking issues, a neighborhood liaison, and a volunteer coordinator. This proven, successful model validates and measures the return on investment for community outreach and volunteer manpower.
- Boots on the ground, an army of many: The Oak Cliff Animal Initiative will bring together neighborhoods of animal lovers and animal advocates to create a powerful collection of ideas and manpower to help solve the animal issues for our neighborhoods. We live here; we are experts in our animal issues and the challenges of the using the existing city system to address current and trending animal issues. We are vested in DAS’ success and are ready to put boots on the ground to support the system and promote a culture of compliance through education initiatives design to inform residents about animal laws as well as available low and no cost resources.We have networks of Neighborhood Associations, Crime Watch groups, businesses, churches, schools, PTAs, local animal advocates, etc. etc. We are the arteries into the neighborhood culture and we are uniquely positioned to help re-shape the animal culture of our neighborhoods. To fully realize our potential, we are advocating for a collaborative partner and point of contact from DAS for our neighborhood. Again, we look to an established Police department model of a Neighborhood Police Officer. A DAS staff neighborhood liaison will work much like the NPO model to facilitate community communication and involvement. The community liaison would also track trending issues and provide targeted solutions for neighborhood issues. We believe our neighborhood can be a test ground and a roadmap to address animal issues in other parts of the city.
As we have explored the challenges and roadblocks to successfully addressing the loose animal issues, it has become clear there is no plan to address the current issues in a meaningful way. There is no budget for prevention or intervention services and the budget for effective enforcement is underfunded to the point of failure.
Currently, DAS’ position is that it is not worth the return on investment to try to pick up loose dogs. That strategy is fatally flawed. We are seeing the consequence of this shift in policy in the current explosion of loose dogs in the southern sector. For every intact female left on the streets, 600 more homeless dogs will be born on the streets over a three year period. Over the lifetime of the dog, that dog could be responsible for up to 67,000 dogs. The math alone dictates that picking up loose intact animals IS worth the return and is necessary to solve the current loose dog issues.
Additionally, the number one goal and measure of success for DAS and DCAP is to lower euthanasia rates. This goal and measure of success is in direct conflict with addressing the loose animal issue across the city. Collectively, these two strategic missteps are compounding the loose and aggressive animal issues in our neighborhood.
The Oak Cliff Animal Initiative is a powerful step towards bringing together our concerns, ideas, volunteers, and city resources to make our neighborhood the best it can be. Our Oak Cliff neighborhoods are known for their thought leadership; we like to think out of the box and take care of our people and animals.
Let’s make sure our City’s leadership understands our animal issues and let’s motivate them to work with us to solve this for all Oak Cliff and for the city. Please use your voice and advocate for both animal issues and an improved safety and quality of life for all of us. How can you let your City leadership know you want these issues addressed?
USE YOUR VOICE
- If you agree with the premise of this post, share it with neighbors and animal advocates – there is strength in numbers and in awareness. You don’t have to live in Oak Cliff to have a voice and to use your voice. If you work, visit, or live in Dallas – this is a concern for you.
- Next, email your City Councilman, the City Manager, the Head of Code Compliance, the Mayor, the Mayor’s chief of staff, the Mayor’s liaison on animal issues, the District 1 Animal Commissioner, and of course, dog lady. Please let them know that you agree and support this initiative. Include your name and address. (There is a copy and paste text and email addresses below for your convenience – feel free to amend with your own personal experience or write your own doc – it is easy and will take 5 minutes tops)
- Promote a spay and neuter culture in your neighborhood. Share information and spread awareness about the free spay and neuter program. For dogs in the 75208 zip code: FreeSpayAndNeuter75208.org Don’t live in 75208? The Big Fix for Big D, among many other programs, covers many of our areas zip codes.
- In August, please attend town hall budget meetings to give a voice to this safety and quality of life issues facing all our residents. These issues cannot be addressed without an appropriate budget for a growing city of Dallas’ size. Final meeting dates will be announced and shared as August approaches.
- Follow the Gypsy Dog Ops website to get updates on the progress of the Oak Cliff Animal initiative, Like Gypsy Dog Ops on Facebook and check out Gypsy Dog Ops website for more information on all things dog, like: available low and no cost services, how to use 311, and how you can advocate and or volunteer.
Take 5 minutes now and write your email:
Sample email (simply copy and paste into an email) Please include your name and address:
Dear City Leaders,
Animal issues are a big concern for my neighborhood. Loose animals, aggressive animals, dumped animals, unvaccinated and unneutered animals are all part of the challenges in our neighborhood. These issues are often associated with high crime rates and quality of life issues.
Animal resources such as low cost spay and neuter program, low cost vaccination and micro chipping are just some of services needed to help improve the quality of life and ensure safe neighborhoods for our city and our citizens. Additionally, the city needs to allocate money to train field services officers in modern best practices concerning animal capture and trapping. Current policies are ineffective and compounding the loose, feral and hard to catch issues. Without proper funding, DAS cannot effectively help elevate Dallas’ reputation to that of a world class, innovative city.
Advocates in our neighborhood have initiated a series of meetings with Councilman Griggs on the subject of loose and dangerous animals as well as other known DAS Field Services issues. I fully support the work of the Oak Cliff Animal Initiative and Gypsy Dog Ops. The details of their initiative can be found in the links below. Please give this grassroots effort the serious attention it deserves in order to properly allocate resources and adjust policies to resolve the loose and dangerous dog issues plaguing the southern sector.
your name and address
For your convenience, we have a copy and paste list of all these city leaders beneath this contact list. Feel free to add additional city leaders to your email
District 1 Councilman: Griggs Scott (email@example.com)
City Manager AC Gonzalez: (I haven’t been able to dig up his email – send it to me if you know it)
Head of Code Compliance: Jimmy Martin (this person is over the DAS budget since DAS is under Code Compliance): (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Mayor’s Liaison on Animal Issues: Mary Spencer (email@example.com)
The Mayor’s Chief of Staff: Adam McGough (adam.mcGough@dallascityhall.com)
Animal Services Division Manager: Jody Jones(firstname.lastname@example.org) Jody Jones
District 1 Animal Commissioner: Chris Watts (email@example.com)
The Oak Cliff Animal Initiative and Gypsy Dog Ops (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Mayor’s Grow South Initiative: email@example.com
Copy and paste list of all the city leaders:
Please address your email to: (you may have to change the “;” to a “‘,” in between the addresses – it depends on your browser.
firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; adam.mcGough@dallascityhall.com ; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are not in District 1 and you don’t know who your City Council member is – follow this link and find out who represents you
“Compassion is not compassion without action” Make a difference in your own backyard. Change starts with each of us:
Advocate – Educate – Volunteer – Foster – Adopt – Donate – Report Loose Dogs – Support a City Wide Spay and Neuter Culture
and thank you!