A ban on tethering unattended animals took effect in Dallas Thursday as Dallas Animal Services reported progress on the city's loose dog problem.
The new law requires owners to be present if an animal is tied up. The old rule allowed tethering for several hours, but it was difficult to enforce because it required Animal Services officers to sit that long and watch the animal.
"The goal is to get these animals inside. We don't believe animals should be living outside on a chain," said Dallas Animal Services Director Edward Jamison.
The new director began in Dallas last October after being hired from Cleveland, Ohio.
He benefits from a budget increase and more staff as he takes control of the department that was sharply criticized for numerous problems after the 2016 death of Army veteran Antoinette Brown from an attack by loose dogs.
A consultant's study recommended many of the changes that have taken place as Dallas police supervisors temporarily took over the Animal Services department before Jamison was hired.
"A lot of people did a lot of work before I got here," Jamison said.
In a briefing for the Dallas Animal Advisory Commission this week, Jamison reported intake of loose animals is up by 35 percent and the live release rate of animals from the shelter has risen to 82 percent.
"The staff here has been very open to changes and improvement," Jamison said. "Our volunteers are terrific, and we have some of the best rescue groups I've ever seen in the country."
Those rescue groups take many animals from the Dallas shelter for adoption elsewhere, but adoptions at the shelter are also being promoted with very low prices for new pet owners.
Jason Reeves from Fort Worth adopted a dog Thursday morning with posted fees of only $10.
His fiancee discovered the dog named Shay on the Dallas Animal Services website.
"It's a stress-free, very laid back, enjoyable experience," Reeves said.
Animal activist Stephanie Timko has been critical of past performance by Dallas Animal Services. Among other things, she fought for the ban on tethering.
"It's made our life so much easier doing outreach to say, 'It's against the law to tether your dog. Let us help you repair your fence and get you crates and get your dog inside,'" she said.
Now, Timko is also a member of the Advisory Commission overseeing Dallas Animal Services.
"I'm really proud of the city for seeing holistically what needed to be done and what people needed to be in place. And we did it. And it's working at the shelter. Now we just need to work on the education side of things," she said. "My vision is one day we have a humane Southern Dallas for dogs, and I think we can get there."
Dallas Animal Services will sponsor a major spay and neuter event the weekend of March 3-4. Fixing animals to reduce breeding is a major part of the city's strategy to reduce Dallas animal overpopulation.