Stray dogs in Houston streets sparking concern

After a woman was fatally mauled, city leaders are looking for ways to get roaming dogs off the street
January 8, 2014 2:51:13 PM PST
The numbers may be alarming to people who live in Houston, but the city receives hundreds of calls daily about loose dogs. This past weekend, dogs mauled a woman to death in southeast Houston and while the investigation continues, some city officials are asking serious questions.

At the street corner where Christine Belle was killed by several dogs, Houston's animal control officers continue to gather evidence and close this case.

"They need more of you guys on the streets?" we asked animal control officer Hugo Parrales said.

They do, they do, they definitely do," he said.

It's no secret many parts of Houston has problems with loose dogs running around. It's a nuisance and danger, and this weekend's brutal mauling has reignited calls for Houston's elected leaders to do something to control the problem.

"Nobody wants to live in a neighborhood with dogs running everywhere. It is scary, you know," neighbor Austin Edgar said said.

Houston is 624 square miles, and 250 animal-related calls come in daily. But on average, only six animal control officers are on duty a day.

Mayor Annise Parker says the city just can't hire enough animal control officers to solve the problems.

"I can take money out of libraries, I can take money out of parks, I can take money out of police or fire or anyting else," Parker said. "There's not money available unless we remove it from somewhere else."

The more realistic solution is to educate the public about responsible pet ownership, something new council member Robert Gallegos says is much needed.

"I will be working hard to make sure we can find some answers," Gallegos said.

And until something is done, these animal control officers will be doing the best they can.

"You can't get to every case?" we asked Parrales.

"We can't unfortunately, but we do what we can," Parrales said.

However, dog-bite calls are always responded to.

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