Animal Welfare

Winter Storm Landon Filled the City's Dog Kennels. Now, Dallas Animal Services Needs Help.

Though Winter Storm Uri was harsher, Leah Backo, a DAS spokesperson, said capacity is a bigger issue during this year's winter storm.
Though Winter Storm Uri was harsher, Leah Backo, a DAS spokesperson, said capacity is a bigger issue during this year's winter storm. Jacob Vaughn
The pandemic has been hard on pets, but it got worse this week when the cold weather in Texas created a perfect storm at Dallas Animal Services. Throughout the last few days, there’s been a large increase in emergency, cold-weather animal calls, and DAS is running out of kennels to house all the dogs in need of warm shelter.

“The ice and snow couldn’t have come at a worse time,” DAS Director MeLissa Webber said in a press release. “It really has created the perfect storm at DAS. We are currently at capacity for medium and large dogs.”

There are nearly 400 pets in the DAS shelter and staff expect to take in dozens more in the coming days. “Without additional support from our community, we’re going to be faced with some very difficult euthanasia decisions, which we all desperately want to avoid,” Webber said.

DAS is now encouraging people to consider fostering or adopting a pet. “We have so many wonderful dogs who would love to provide extra warmth to your family,” Webber said. “Taking them home even for a few days will literally save their lives. They are depending on the compassion of our community.”

"They are depending on the compassion of our community.” – DAS Director MeLissa Webber

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If the roads are safe, pets can be picked up at two DAS locations. Their main shelter is located at 1818 N. Westmoreland Road and houses most of the department’s animals. Same-day adoption is available at that location. Pets are also available at the PetSmart Everyday Adoption Center at 16821 North Coit Road. (More information is available at bedallas90.org.)

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson also encouraged people to help out DAS on Twitter. “If you have been thinking about rescuing or fostering a dog – and you are able to care for one – now is the time,” Johnson said. “Make a new friend today.”

People should alert DAS to pets outside in freezing temperatures and those without fresh, unfrozen water for prolonged periods by calling 311 or through the OurDallas mobile app.

“As the temperature continues to drop, prevention is key,” Webber said. “Bring your pets inside or make sure they have warm shelter from the wind and weather so that they stay safe and don’t end up at DAS.”

The Humane Society of Central Texas is also asking people to foster animals as the harsh winter weather subsides. In a video posted to their Facebook page, someone with The Humane Society said they had 153 dogs and counting that needed a warm place to stay. The organization would still have volunteers looking after the pets at the shelter, but they’ll be stuck in their pens for most of the time. That's why they’re asking people to foster.

DAS and other Texas animal shelters faced similar challenges during and in the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri. Animal services in Austin, Tyler, San Antonio, Dallas and other Texas cities worked in the two weeks after the storm to transfer more than 1,000 pets to other shelters across the country.

The animal shelter in Dallas was also hit with a surge in distemper cases in November. Then, staffing shortages caused by the spread of omicron slammed DAS last month, causing them to close down on Thursdays.

Leah Backo, a DAS spokesperson, told the Observer, “Due to our consistent heavy volume of pets, we will always take additional support from the community.”
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn

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