My heart sinks quick, the efforts I tried weren’t working, and all I can do is drive off feeling guilty, angry, and sad. That’s the overwhelming feeling I get when I find a loose dog, which happens too often in Dallas.
I get the same feeling when I scroll past the Dowdy Ferry Animal Commission Facebook videos or photos displaying the horrid acts done to dogs and then their bodies left on the side of the road in South Dallas. The same feelings erupt when the media picks up the city’s videos of people blatantly discarding their furry friends on a deserted street. Most recently, the man who pulls up on camera, opens his back door, and lets out a leashed dog to now fend for itself. Or the photos of the dramatic rescue of a pup left in a locked crate on small cliffside.
These same emotions flood in when I rehash the news of Antoinette Brown who succumbed to her injuries from a stray dog attack in May 2016. I see the sense of justifiable fear of dogs in many faces because of witnessed attacks or scary dog interactions. While walking my dogs, in true Jason Bourne fashion, I’m on high alert and continually go over a plan of what I would do if a stray dog popped out of here, or there, or the next spot. There’s usually a lot of yelling involved, panic, and extreme uncertainty.
I am also on high emotional alert when it comes to Dallas Animal Services. The amount of dogs they service is staggering. In FY 2017 14,836 dogs were impounded from the streets and 9,466 dogs were surrendered in shelter. That’s on average, 66 dog intakes per day! This past year 30 percent of shelter animals were adopted, 24 percent euthanized, 24 percent transferred and 12 percent returned to owner. Adopting dogs helps, but it’s not solving the stray dog public health issue.
Let’s Fix This. Literally, “Let’s Fix This” kicked off in April 2017 with a mission in public safety by ending dog bites and attacks. The program offers free spay/neuter clinics in 23 zip codes focused in South Dallas. According to city data, districts 4 and 5 have the highest number of dog related incidents. One study found 84.4 percent of dog attacks are from intact animals. Spaying and neutering dogs can help reduce the number of unwanted breeding events leading to less dogs on the streets. Fixing the issue at it’s core, and not after the fact.
In their first six months, Let’s Fix This has completed 6,233 dog surgeries and is on pace to do about 18,000 in their first complete year. Thanks to big donor dollars from W.W. Caruth Foundation, The Rees-Jones Foundation and the Dallas Foundation, Let’s Fix This utilizes a new brick and mortar facility in south Dallas and several mobile units through collaboration with the SPCA of Texas and the Spay Neuter Network. Residents in the 23 zip codes can book their dog or cat’s appointment online at lets-fix-this.org.
The stray dog issue is emotional on so many levels. After the awful loss of Antoinette Brown, it did spark our community and city leaders to push forward to solve the stray dog issue. Ms. Brown’s death made national news and the entire nation is watching what we will do to keep our community safe, reduce the amount of stray dogs, and continue to be leaders in our adoption programs.
“What Dallas should be proud of, is the very strong commitment from a city perspective and city-wide for it’s community and animals” said Aaron Asmus, Project Manager for Let’s Fix This.
The community support needs to continue. Let’s Fix This can use your help spreading the word about free spay/neuter options, volunteering at a spay/neuter event, volunteering your time to make appointment reminder phone calls and of course, more dollars will lead to more high quality spay/neuter options to reduce strays. This is how we can fix this problem, get involved.
As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly.