If you own a dog and live in the city of Dallas, you should be very concerned about who is running Dallas Animal Services. You should be very concerned about what is going to be presented in the Quality of Life meeting this coming Monday.
Back in the fall, the City Council told Dallas Animal Services (DAS) to go back to the drawing board and come up with a strategic plan that would address the loose dog issues and restore the safety and quality of life for the city’s citizens and the animals. Among DAS’ “best ideas” was to close the tax payer funded shelter to admissions. They just wouldn’t take in any more owner surrendered dogs and that would solve the capacity problem. That’s was honestly their best idea. It set off a firestorm in the community. To add insult to injury, that strategy was going to solve nothing except to keep down capacity at the shelter and in turn it would increase the numbers of dumped dogs on the streets. Keeping the intake down was never the goal! Every Dallas tax payer should be concerned when current management can’t see and align with council’s goals and directives.
In the shadow of Antoinette Brown’s tragic mauling by a pack of loose dogs, Dallas Animal Services has been asked again to look at the policies and procedures and to come up with some innovative ideas to address the issue. Some of these ideas will be presented in the Quality of Life Meeting on Monday, June 12th. We got a sneak peak at the document they will be presenting on Monday at 9am.
First, let us say, some of the suggestions are solid. These suggestions, things like mandatory microchipping, stricter spay and neuter laws etc., are no brainers and best practices in other cities. But some of the ideas put forward are so misaligned with the welfare of the citizens it is hard to comprehend that these suggestions are management’s best ideas.
Let’s start with a little background. The Dallas shelter was formed with three main functions:
- Rabies Control
- Animal Control
- Sheltering: To shelter animals long enough to give them a chance to be returned to their owners
In the document being presented on Monday, there is a suggestion to: “eliminate hold times on…strays impounded from designated areas with high incidents of injury by animals.” Again, DAS’ misaligned idea is to increase shelter capacity for intake, which is not a goal that has to be reached via euthanasia. Your dog should not be put at risk and denied a hold period on intake to make more shelter capacity. The idea of a shelter is to actually shelter the dog long enough to give its owner a chance to look for it and to reunite the pet with its owner. You currently have a 72 hours period to claim your pet at the shelter. This policy change would be a huge penalty against otherwise good complaint dog owners. Let me give you an example:
I live in District 1. According to DPD dog bite data, District 1 is #2 for attacks per square mile. That potentially makes District 1 an area of “high incidents of injury by animal”. Which means that if my dog accidentally gets out and slips its collar, or my neighbor’s dog gets out, and it ends up at the shelter – it would immediately be at risk for euthanasia. Your dog could be accidentally let out by the meter man while you are at work and by the time you got home to figure it out, your dog could be dead, killed by the City. Even if your dog is chipped it could be in jeopardy, trust me when I tell you, the shelter regularly misses microchips when they scan dogs. I don’t know about you, but a City that will immediately euthanize a healthy potentially owned dog on intake at the shelter is not a City I want to live in.
Additionally, most of the dog bites in the city of Dallas happen in low income areas. Now I’m no lawyer, but it seems like this suggested strategy is a civil rights violation that targets our underserved communities. Don’t the under deserve tax paying citizens deserve the same level of services as the well off residents to the North? Don’t their owned loose dogs deserve a hold period too?
Amidst the crisis level animal issues that are now costing lives, the idea to reduce hold times as part of management’s BEST ideas and suggestions is absolutely mind numbing. Go ahead ask yourself, do you want that kind of leadership in charge? People that will deny you or others a right to basic city services based on your income level?
Meantime, while the brain trust is at work cooking up these great ideas, dog bites are up 50% over last year. The United States Postal Service has given the City of Dallas a dubious #3 ranking in the nation for dog bites against postal carriers. (We are #9 in population) My district averages 15 dog bites per square mile. (2009-April 2016). It’s just a matter of time before it’s YOU or me!
Let’s ask the City to get serious about solving these problems and bring in someone with viable ideas, innovative thinking, and strong leadership abilities. We’re not the only ones that think a change is desperately needed, the Dallas Morning News is still standing strong on their call to have Jody Jones removed from her role at DAS.
Please, use your voice – let your City Council know that you DO NOT want reduce hold times for animals. Email them now.