Dallas' Stray Dog Problem Gets Worse After Woman's Death
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Dallas is dealing with a stray dog problem. Many people there are frightened. A woman in Dallas was mauled earlier this month by a pack of stray dogs. Dogs bit her more than 100 times. She died a week later. Officials are scrambling for solutions. Courtney Collins from member station KERA reports from Dallas.
COURTNEY COLLINS, BYLINE: Neighbors say the dogs that killed Antoinette Brown weren't homeless strays. They belonged to someone. They were allowed to run loose. Animal advocate Marina Terashevska struggles with that.
MARINA TARASHEVSKA: It's so scary that somebody got attacked so viciously. I can't imagine what she went through. Nobody should go through that. And I just feel so sorry for her family.
COLLINS: We're driving through southeast Dallas in her Chevy Tahoe. There's a trap in the back, a few leashes and a shopping bag full of SPAM. Yep, the canned meat. The dogs really like that. All Tarashevska does is try to rescue and foster strays.
TARASHEVSKA: I think at this point, everyone agrees that it has become a crisis, not only for animals but also for humans as well.
COLLINS: Today she's headed to a construction site just off the highway. It's also home to a pair of dogs she's hoping to coax into her SUV.
(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLING)
COLLINS: The 50-pound female walks right up to Tarashevska, happy to get a snack. In a few minutes, the shepherd-pit bull mix has been corralled and is resting on a sleeping bag in the back of her vehicle. The male is too skittish, so she sets a trap and leaves. Tarashevska is used to seeing the worst. So is Dallas City Council Member Tiffinni Young.
TIFFINNI YOUNG: It is an epidemic. It is out of control. Stray dogs are everywhere.
COLLINS: Young represents this part of Dallas, just south and east of downtown. She's a fierce critic of how the stray problem has been handled. She wants more code enforcement so dogs can't escape through shoddy fences. She calls for mandatory microchipping and real consequences when pet owners fail to follow the rules.
YOUNG: There's some point you begin to lose those rights to own those animals when you're not taking care of the animals, when you are allowing them to roam the streets and terrorize others.
COLLINS: Jody Jones, who runs Animal Services, admits the stray problem in Dallas is bigger than it should be.
JODY JONES: I think from a national perspective, we really have an exacerbated problem here with loose animals. And the city has really been coming together to implement creative strategies, strong enforcement and opportunities to really fix this problem.
COLLINS: A new partnership with the police is one of those strategies. Dallas is also considering stronger spay and neuter laws. And in tough neighborhoods, some people have big dogs for a reason - security. If the city takes them away, some folks will just find new ones. Council Member Young says her constituents need more than promises.
YOUNG: At the end of the day, they want peaceful, quiet enjoyment of their neighborhood. They want the dogs picked up.
COLLINS: That's something almost everyone agrees on. Despite a brutal death, no one's figured out how to take it on. For NPR News, I'm Courtney Collins in Dallas.
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