Dear City of Dallas,
I have lived in South Dallas for many years and I take great pride in living in a unique diverse urban neighborhood. There are many challenges to living in such a neighborhood, but when you live here you generally accept the challenges as part of the diversity. When you face quality of life issues, you band together with your neighbors and you address the issues directly with each other and with the city. But I have finally had enough of the challenges. I am ready to pack it up and move to the burbs (did you feel the world spin backwards just then?) and to be done with Dallas.
It is not the things South Dallas is notorious for that have tipped the scales. It’s not the gunshots, the crime, the police helicopters, the lack of decent grocery stores, the under performing schools – those things have been improving. It’s the dogs. For years our neighborhood has been actively petitioning the city for help with a chronic loose and feral dog problem and it has only been escalating and worsening year after year. South Dallas looks like South American or a third world country. Laws are not enforced; dogs are everywhere; dogs are suffering. It is not just appalling, it is dangerous.
Let me give you an example. This is not an extraordinary week, this is business as usual. This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the countless daily posts and reports across the neighborhoods about loose dogs, neglected dogs, illegal puppy sales, etc etc This is just a snapshot of my front yard.
I took my third generation rescued feral pack dog Rudy out front for a quick Christmas picture – rescue dogs need marketing pictures to get adopted you know. We walked out the front door and immediately ran into a Rottweiler and his medium sized brown friend. The rotty had been reported to 311 the day before as aggressive. There we were face to face in the front yard with a known aggressive dog. The loose dogs had just missed my neighbor, her baby, and her toddler.
We had to go back in the house and call off the pic. The two dogs kept circling the block. It seems the rotty is one of two owned rottweilers that are chronically loose and out of compliance with city code and laws. Because the dog had been reported as aggressive, I reported this dog (with an address) to all of DAS management, Scott Griggs, and the District 1 Animal Commissioner. After the initial acknowledgement of the email, one week later, I have not heard any follow up.
Instead of taking the Christmas pics, I ran an errand. On the way back, my neighbor’s $%% chihuahua mixes were in the road. DAS has been notified multiple times that these delinquent owners will stand outside while their three dogs run in the road. The dogs are out everyday chasing, barking, and biting at other dogs and people walking by. The dogs stand in the road and are constantly in jeopardy of being hit by cars or causing an accident. Nothing is being done about it. You can not drive or walk down the street without being assaulted by the dogs. They have been reported to 311 by many different people. Documented problems with this house go back to at least last April. There are plenty more pictures.
I took Tasha, our first generation feral pack dog, out front to take her Christmas picture. There was a loose dog on the corner – guess who it was – $%% chihuahua mix.
Our friend and neighbor Hal showed up and as we were talking and hanging out, here comes the recently reported shady mixed breed dog and its brown friend (maybe the same brown friend as the Rotty’s brown friend?) These two loose dogs have been running up and down the street every night preventing us from taking our daily walk. They had been previously called into DAS/311 by a neighbor. The large mix breed dog started trotting straight for us. Tasha, a former feral herself, sat straight up and gave the dog doggie stink eye. The dog froze, thought about it for a minute and then trotted back down Wentworth.
I met my friend at the Local Oak for a quick birthday party. It was pretty early. I pulled up to park and I was blocked by two large stray dogs laying in the only available parking spot. Seriously?
I didn’t stay long and I volunteered to help bring one of the kids back to my friend’s house. As the two of us walked out to my car – what was on the 7 year old child’s side of the car blocking the car? Two large stray dogs. I had to run them off so we could safely get in the car. These dogs have also been reported to 311 and on FB several times.
We saw our friend Hal walking our pal and GDO alum Bo. So we brought Pitty out to say hello to her old running buddy. Guess what they are looking at across the street in this picture below? You guessed it – a loose dog.
Later, Tasha, Number Two, and I started off on our walk and we didn’t even get around the corner when shady dog and brown friend start at us on our walk. Number Two started barking at them and Tasha lunged at them and they ran off. Number Two doesn’t normally bark – so she felt pretty threatened to act aggressive like that.
Then on the way back from our walk as we took the corner on the street, another dog ran out and bit Tasha on the leg. Really? With the exception of the restaurant, this overall story has not even made it a one block radius on either side of my house.
I thought I had seen it all when I had a 15 member dog pack in my front yard 3 Octobers in a row, but now I can’t even walk my dogs out of the front door into my front yard on any given day. The dog that I actually own (not Tasha) has been attacked 3 times on walks resulting in 2 serious ER visits. Chankla is a also an Oak Cliff rescue dog and is a trained therapy dog. She would not pass the therapy dog exam now due to the fact that she is now reactionary to other dogs when she sees them at a distance because she has been attacked so many times. What an unnecessary, preventable shame.
The Mayor keeps talking about a creative class that he wants to bring to Dallas. I am sure that the creative class would like to take a walk, or ride their bikes to work, or just go to dinner without worrying about their safety due to loose dogs and dog packs.
How do I know this? I am part of the creative class and my friends are in this circle of professionals. An executive from the Nasher was at the birthday party at the Local Oak – you can’t get any more creative class than that.
The creative class is very loudly telling you that this city is failing miserably to provide a safety and quality of life that aligns with their needs. When the creatives don’t want to live in urban, “authentic” parts of town: the New York Times stops writing about your neighborhoods; the developers can’t see past the roadblocks; development stagnates; the tax base in the south remains untapped and meaningful growth continues out to the northern suburbs. One word for you: Toyota.
Imagine, the Mayor will have difficulty achieving and sustaining growth in the southern sector because the city can’t get past the hurdle of loose dogs. Seems kind of ridiculous when you say it out loud, but that is the at the core of the problem. The pattern is there already.
Oak Cliff has been up and Oak Cliff has been down multiples times over the last 100 years. Don’t think for a minute people won’t leave Oak Cliff and repeat flight patterns of the past if they can’t find a decent, safe quality of life in the community they love.
The people have let the city know that animal issues are important and that they want them funded and solved for everyone. The southern sector needs the city to step up their game and treat this issue like the crisis situation that it is.
Remember the last Winter Olympics where people we so appalled that a world class city was full of street dogs? Dallas dogs are not like Sochi‘s dog, our situation is worse. The Sochi dogs were owned dogs suddenly displaced when the government moved the families and tore down their houses. Dallas’ loose and feral dogs are the neglected, unwanted, unsocial growing homeless animal population that has been unaddressed for decades. The neglected issue has been compounded by an exploding population rate in our city with no additional focus or resources on the issue per capita. There are estimates that the city of Dallas has a stray and feral dog population in the range of 5,000 animals across the city. Our puppies might not be born under the spot light of a media tent during the olympics, but they are born under our houses, they live in our parks and fields, they live on the grounds of our schools and universities, they run loose in tourist areas, and they roam our neighborhoods freely.
Many, many dogs have been reported behind the Local Oak, behind Ten Bells, up and down in Bishop Arts, in the fields across from the Belmont, packs on Jefferson, packs at the base of the bridge, at Kidd Springs, behind the 7-11, at the schools, and on an on. The dogs are rarely picked up or addressed by DAS. It is time for Dallas to act like a world class city. I want to walk my dogs and I want to safely walk out of my house and at least make it out of my YARD before I see loose dogs and maybe even one block – and dream of dreams – maybe even around the block.
I have spent the last four years dealing with large dog packs in our neighborhood. Fighting, snarling, cat killing, dogs in our yards, schools, and parks. I have spent the past 4 years working with the city to identity the animal issues facing our neighborhood, the city, and Animal Services. I have spent the last four years personally trapping feral dog packs in my front yard, dozens of dogs in my front yard. And most telling, a citizen is hand catching dogs that eluded Animal Services, with great success. That should be alarming and a wake up call to city officials.
I started an animal advocacy organization out of necessity and we have pulled together experts, neighborhood meetings, consultants, and made them available to the city and to Animal Services with observations and recommendations. We have petitioned to restore the budget and to completely overhaul field services with efficient modern best practices. We voted to give City Council and the Mayor a raise. We did all this just to have a base level of safety and quality of life in our neighborhood that every citizen of Dallas deserves. No citizen should have multiple dog packs in their yard year after year. No citizen should be attacked in their front yard. No citizen should have to watch their cat mauled in front of their eyes. I am not the only resident that this has happened to. This is not acceptable and yet this is the norm.
I have stopped walking my dogs because most days I just don’t want to deal with the loose dogs. My behavior is being shaped by fear. This is not the change that I promised Tasha when we pulled that dart out of her shoulder three years ago. Our animals and our citizens deserve better.
I just came from a meeting with Animal Services where they shared with us that analysis and then long term planning to address the issues in our neighborhood would not even be looked at before fall of 2015 at the earliest. This is a large city, so you can extrapolate that nothing will be changed or implemented based on the planning before late 2016 (based on budget approvals and hiring processes). So business as usual and maybe by 2017 I will be able to safely walk my dogs down my street.
It is with the thought of 2017 that I would like to share one of the most disheartening facebook posts I have ever seen about our animal issue. It was posted last spring in response to our friend and neighbor in Sunset Hill. Her cat had been mauled and ultimately killed in front of her by roaming dogs and she wanted everyone to know to be careful and to be on the look out for the dogs.
This gentleman’s parents are my friends and neighbors. They are all wonderful, reasonable, educated, caring people. Keep that in mind as you read this. Click the image to enlarge it.
I cried when I saw the post because I knew it was true. The gentleman is talking about our pack – he is talking about Tasha’s pack (first generation feral dog pack). Nothing had changed in regard to how the city handled the dog pack despite neighbors having had all written letters, made phone calls, attending commission meetings, and personally trapping pack dogs.
We had put in 311 reports about Number Two (second generation of Tasha’s feral dog pack) and a pack of male dogs following her in October. The 311 ticket was closed. She was not picked up. There was no follow up. She went on to have 5 puppies (third generation of Tasha’s feral dog pack) under a house on 12th street during the big storm that shut down the city in January. When we found her and the pups in January, the house had a for sale sign out front and the Momma dog was not allowing anyone on the property to show the house. This documented three generation dog pack is a prime of example of how the city is failing our neighborhood and compounding the problem and why neighbors feel compelled to conceal carry just to take a walk.
Mr Mayor, a creative class will not move to and stay in a neighborhood where they feel they have to carry a concealed handgun to safely walk their dogs or push their children around the neighborhood in a stroller.
Mayor Rawlings, when you are serious about solving this problem – give us a call.
This is so well written and documented, and so vexing. Why do you suppose it has gotten worse? How do you educate people to change their ways?
It seems like most people don’t care about something until it’s in their front yard, so the challenge is to get it in everyone’s “figurative” front yard, even those who don’t live in the neighborhood or have to deal with it every day.
Teresa, thanks for the kind words. There are several reasons we believe it has gotten worse. The biggest reason is that field services needs to be revamped and modernized to use modern best practices. When you don’t deal with the loose animals, the situation quickly compounds due to nature’s math. 1 dog can make 600 new dogs in 3 years. Yikes! Here’s a link to what we think needs to be done.
We’re going to have another Oak Cliff Animal Initiative meeting in April – look for a date announcement soon – come join us!