In Dallas, stray and loose dogs are still roaming the streets, particularly on the city's south side.
Some attacks have resulted in serious injuries — and death. This summer, a man was attacked in far south Dallas by three dogs. In 2016, Antoinette Brown, a homeless Army veteran, was killed in southern Dallas after being mauled by a pack of dogs.
That same year, Boston Consulting Group was commissioned to study the issue and found nearly 9,000 dogs loose in the southern part of the city. Since then, Dallas has hired a new director of Animal Services and strengthened an ordinance to counter the problem. A $13 million private effort to spay and neuter dogs made a difference, but it fell short of its goals.
Many rescue groups roam the streets, too, aiming to help these dogs — and prevent more attacks. Elise Bissell, president of the nonprofit Dallas Street Dog Advocates, recently joined KERA to talk about their work.
How things have change since Brown's death
Different groups have been formed, other nonprofits. Foundations in the Dallas area have come together and they've provided the money to have the Boston Consulting Group report completed. That report helped determine how many stray and loose dogs were in the area.
And the city, Dallas Animal Services combined with the Spay Neuter Network and the SPCA have all agreed to try and spay and neuter 100,000 dogs in the next three years. That leaves 38,000 dogs that still need to be spayed and neutered over that time frame.
What's happening is the nonprofits are trying to step in and help collect the dogs off the street. Our organization and a couple more work really hard to get the dogs off the streets and get them spayed and neutered before they have more puppies who have more puppies.
On the reality for dogs on the streets
It's heartbreaking. They starve. They're hit by cars. They're attacked by other animals — coyotes, other dogs. Some of the dogs that we've found have been abused in a variety of ways. Tick infestations, fleas, sarcoptic mange. If you can think of it, it's happened; we've found it.
On the amount of work involved to rescue a dog
It just depends. If the dog was an owned dog that had been abandoned or dumped and they're socialized, you can drive by, open your car door, and they're so happy to see you. They just jump right in. Those are the easy ones that we don't have any trouble re-homing. Of course, we have to make sure they're not somebody's dog. Our group works with the communities in the area and we find out which ones are the stray dogs, which ones are the owned dogs. If they're owned and they're wanted, then we help get them spayed and neutered, and help owners with their fences and or teach them about keeping their dog in the house. We have a variety of things like that.
Interview responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.