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Houston Proposes New Rules To Control Stray Animal Population

The proposal aims to reduce the number of animals on the streets.

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Just last week a Houston woman was attacked by two pit bulls while she was out jogging on the Southwest side.

The dogs bit her 56 times before a rescuer could pull them off.

BARC Spokesman Chris Newport says the department doesn’t have enough officers or resources to keep the animal population under control.

He says the proposed changes to animal control policy will help BARC pull animals off the streets before they bite someone.

“I think the most significant changes are two new tools that are going to allow us to get in front of dangerous dog bites. And that is a nuisance dog designation and an aggressive dog designation.”

A nuisance designation means if you have a dog in your neighborhood that barks all night long, or destroys your property, you can provide documented proof to animal control and have that dog impounded. An aggressive designation gives animal control officers the right to seize dogs that exhibit aggressive behavior or present a threat to public safety.

District I Councilmember Robert Gallegos says his district is plagued by stray dogs.

“This morning, when I went to go to a Mexican restaurant in the East End for a breakfast taco, as I was leaving at the business across the street there were these two dogs, stray dogs, one of them looks like it had mange, and both of them seemed to be pit bull mix. Now if this was in the Galleria, I’m sure something would be happening quick.”

Gallegos says new rules for BARC will only go so far to solve the problem. He says BARC’s budget needs to be increased to pay for more animal control officers and free or low-cost spay and neutering services.

“Out in the community, when somebody brings it to my attention that they called BARC, and BARC never comes around, I’ve always defended BARC. I’ve always said BARC is doing what they can do with what they’ve got.”

Mayor Annise Parker says she will increase BARC’s funding in the upcoming budget cycle.

“But I’m here to tell you it’s not going to change until we have a culture here that spays and neuters their pets. And we need to be sending out a message that no one ought to have a fertile pet in the city of Houston.”

There are an estimated 1.2 million stray dogs and cats within the city.

Houston Councilmembers have two weeks to review the proposed changes before they take a vote on March 26th.

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Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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