Stray dog complaints on the rise on East End

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Eastside residents crowded into a community meeting Monday night demanding action from city officials on the topic of loose dogs.

In the packed room at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 7250 Harrisburg, they were hoping for major commitments from the city.

Parents say loose dogs wander the streets around HISD's De Zavala Elementary School. On her daily walk home with her children, April Hernandez is frightened by what she see.

"These dogs are loose everywhere. They're not just one. They're groups of dogs," she explained

Our camera recorded almost 10 dogs, both big and small, wandering in the streets. Parents fear the worst and want more from the city.

"It's an ongoing issue and it needs to be addressed," said Gilbert Tobias

At the community meeting, organized by The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), there were photos of loose dogs on posters in the back. Mother Lori Perez admitted her fear.

"I do not want any parent to bury a child," she told those in the audience.

BARC, the city's animal control division, understands the fears but officials say widespread sweeps just aren't possible.

"They're looking more for large-scale sweeps, which we don't have the resources to do at this time," Chris Glaser, BARC Animal Control Manager, told Eyewitness News.

Glaser says they can barely keep up with urgent calls let alone sweeps of neighborhoods. He says so many animals turn out to be owned, so owner education is just as important. BARC's Healthy Pets/Healthy Streets initiative is coming to the area soon.

"We're hoping that will take the toll on the amount of animals out here," Glaser added.

BARC has also benefited from an increased budget in the upcoming year. They are hiring 12 new officers and adding six new vehicles. Glaser says he hopes that alleviates some of the load but he's not optimistic. Even with the increases they expect to be able to respond to less than 40 percent of calls. BARC receives more than 50,000 calls for service each year.

"We'll do the best we can but it takes a lot of people and takes a lot of time," Glaser said.
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