January’s Lower Greenville Neighborhood Association meeting featured Marcialyn Banks, Educational Training Coordinator from the city’s Animal Services department.
How it works: Ms Banks explained that animal-related calls to 311 are treated by priority. Cruelty to animals or suspected rabies cases are given high priority, for example. Individual stray animal reports are given lower priority because by the time an investigator responds to the call, the animal is usually gone from the reported site. The city has only seven officers in the field during the day and fewer officers at night. The city currently has two animal pounds, one in Pleasant Grove and one in Oak Cliff. These two facilities will soon consolidate to one new location in Oak Cliff.
Stray dogs: If you see a stray dog, call 311 and report the exact location. Ms Banks said that a report of a specific address or block is most helpful. Animal Services conducts “sweeps” on a regular basis. If there are several reports of stray dogs in a neighborhood, Animal Services can map a pattern and make a “sweep” in areas with a large number of calls. “We need you to be our eyes,” she said.
Stray cats: For stray cats, the city provides traps. Since they have only 40 traps, there is usually a waiting list. But the wait is generally short because a trap stays at one location for no more than two weeks. Animals will learn to avoid a trap after that length of time. Call 311 to request a trap. An officer will deliver the trap and instruct how to set it. The only thing required of you is to call Animal Services when an animal is trapped. Such a call will take highest priority. Traps are not distributed during periods, such as freezing weather, when an animal’s life might be endangered by trapping. Only one trap to a location.
Opossums/raccoons: The trap program is applicable to wild creatures as well as stray pets. Call 311 if you trap such an animal.
Feeding stray animals: Ms Banks urged that we should not follow our natural humanitarian instincts to feed stray animals. Such a practice encourages more animals to come. If you suspect someone is feeding stray animals, call 311 and report the address and time of day they’re being fed.
Do it yourself: You can buy your own trap at feed stores or home improvement stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot. If you trap an animal, call 311 for a priority pickup. Do not attempt to remove the animal yourself.
Injured animals: If you see an injured animal, do not try to help it yourself. Call 311. Animal Services will come out on a high-priority basis.
Spay/neuter assistance: Dallas has become the first city in Texas to offer free spay and neuter services for pets owned by low-income residents. Most applicants will be approved for the program if they already receive some type of public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid. Low-income pet owners not receiving public assistance may still qualify for the program and are encouraged to apply. For more information, call 214-670-8246.
Community Education: “Getting the message out” is an important component of Dallas Animal Services. Staff will give presentations to groups such as schools or scout troops. Call 214-670-8246.
Your own pets: Ms Banks urged us to be responsible pet owners. The owner or harborer of a dog or cat must have the animal vaccinated for rabies, have the certificate available, and pay an annual registration to the city. She urged vaccinations for common diseases also. The city’s leash law includes cats as well as dogs.