The last time Dallas Animal Services came to the Dallas City Council's Quality of Life Committee to talk about the city's loose dog problem, council members said they wanted substance. Scott Griggs and Mark Clayton, especially, sought numbers and an actual plan to answer complaints from their constituents about the dogs and bad dog owners who make up and feed the packs of unattended animals that roam parts of Dallas.
Monday, DAS answered the council members' challenge with a series of heat maps and a plan for targeted sweeps for animals throughout the winter and spring.
In deciding the areas to target, DAS looked at each council district from which the agency received more than 5,000 calls for service between April 1 and September 30. All five of the districts looked at were in southern Dallas, and each will have a zone targeted by DAS. Two animal control trucks will patrol each of the about one-half square mile areas two days a week over a 30-day period during the next six months, impounding as many loose animals as possible.
The targeted sweeps are, DAS says, a stopgap. The agency has struggled to keep itself fully staffed, but said Monday that it can get staffing closer to appropriate levels by April. When that happens, DAS will evaluate the successes and failures of the targeted plan and implement a loose animal initiative for southern Dallas that's set to be paid for by the city's 2016 budget.
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Council members praised the amount of data DAS gave them, but some questioned the tiny areas selected for targeting by the agency.
"That's such a small area, this is basically a postage stamp in each of the five districts that we're looking at," Griggs said, before questioning whether focusing so many resources on an area that might only receive a couple of calls a week will reduce services in other areas.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the days the targeted patrols will be made, two of the seven DAS vehicles on the road will be dedicated to the targeted area, the agency says. When the vehicles aren't responding to calls, which would be most of the time, according to the data, they'll be looking for stray or loose dogs, trying to talk to pet owners about compliance and issuing citations. They won't leave their target to respond to another call.