Animal Welfare

Stung By Report on Mauling, City Reveals Potential New Rules on Dogs

After the fatal savaging of Antoinette Brown in southern Dallas in May, the status quo on loose dogs in Dallas has grown increasingly unacceptable. Led by City Council member Tiffinni Young, residents and other leaders of the city's southern sector have grown louder in demanding that the city do more to address the roving packs.

On Monday, city staff revealed what it's got in the works to deal with the problem.

So far the plan is basically to do four things: Mandate that dogs be micro-chipped, strengthen spaying and neutering requirements, improve the tracking of impounded and surrendered dogs by Dallas Animal Services and requiring that Dallas Animal Services be staffed overnight. Right now, only dogs determined to be dangerous or adopted from a city shelter are required to be micro-chipped. The chips, staff say, help to hold owners responsible for their behavior. Making sure dogs are fixed, Dallas Animal Services Director Jody Jones said Monday, makes them less aggressive.

Friday afternoon, the city released a 72-page report on Brown's death. The report said the city documented  repeated issues at the house at which the dogs who attacked Brown were thought to have lived, including multiple instances of dogs being surrendered.  The report also pointed out that impounding the seven dogs thought to have killed Brown probably took longer than it should because Dallas police had trouble rousing an animal control officer in the pre-dawn hours of May 4.

"To read all of the gaps and all of the mistakes and all of the failures, ‘disheartening’ is just too mild a word,” Council member Sandy Greyson said Monday at a meeting of the council's Quality of Life Committee, after laying much of the blame for the city's problems on bad dog owners. "I’m for anything that helps us deal with these irresponsible people. Doing the same thing we’ve always done has proven to not work." 

Young said the she agreed with many of the recommendations made by city staff, but stressed that the  focusing on owners won't fix the immediate problems people face in her district. "I understand that we need to have better enforcement on the pet owners, but right now, we need to focus on picking up the dogs," she said. "They can keep sending the hate mail, and I'm going to keep saying it. We’ve seen nothing happen after a constituent was murdered, mauled to death by a dog."

The regulations proposed Monday are part of dueling efforts to remedy the loose dog dilemma. The Boston Consulting Group has been brought in by the city in to look at potentially restructuring Dallas Animal Services. The earliest any changes to Dallas city ordinances regarding pet ownership could go into effect would be August, Assistant City Manager Joel Zapata said.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young