The city of Dallas wants to hire more animal services officers to help tackle the problem of loose dogs roaming South Dallas streets.
Dallas Animal Services is already in the middle of a months-long campaign to boost their presence in South Dallas. Officers are patrolling nearly every day through the spring. They are not only following up on service calls, but are also now proactively writing citations and giving warnings.
In the six-month stretch between April and September 2015, animal control officers wrote two citations for a high-volume area in Council District 5. Just Wednesday – on a follow-up patrol – officers wrote five new citations.
In January 2016, officers in total wrote 24 citations and seized 24 loose dogs in that section of town.
So far in February, there have been about 60 citations there.
Dallas Animal Services receives about 100 calls every single day, and an "overwhelming majority," officers say, are in South Dallas.
NBC 5 tagged along with DAS Officer Esteban Rodriguez as he patrolled the neighborhoods around Interstate 35E and Camp Wisdom Road. He hoped to visit a dozen homes.
Rodriguez is one of 22 Dallas animal control officers. Five were just hired in the last few weeks and are currently in training; there are still a handful of vacancies to fill.
"It's always exciting when you see new people, new faces around the department. That means you know you'll be able to get more work done and help the public," Rodriguez said.
DAS was first admonished by the city council last year for not doing enough to fight back against dog bites and aggressive canines roaming South Dallas streets; then in October they were empowered with more money to hire additional officers and a new campaign to target problem neighborhoods.
"We're going to come out and issue citations and we're going to stay on top of it," Rodriguez said. "I think in the long-run this is going to make a difference."
"A lot of times we see the dogs that are running loose are actually owned, so we try to address it with the owner and educate them on the proper confinement of their dog," he added.
In total, Rodriguez wrote five citations and encountered a few other large, loose animals.
"It's always scary any time you're dealing with a large dog and seeing signs of aggression. You need to think of safety first," he said.
A citation fine generally runs between $200-400.
This year DAS is also planning to do more community outreach events specifically targeting South Dallas and offering free or low-cost spay and neuter clinics. There were no such South Dallas community outreach events in 2015. An event in January led to 31 neuterings.