Dallas Animal Services reported progress Monday on the city's dangerous stray dog problem and mapped out a plan to make more progress.
Six months ago DAS launched a targeted attack on stray dogs, rotating a month at a time of intense attention to individual problem neighborhoods.
Animal control officers boosted patrols in those areas, wrote extra citations and attempted to educate owners about responsible pet care.
The first area was around Overton Road, which had the city's worst stray dog problem according to 3-1-1 calls for animal complaints prior to the program.
Monday, neighbors said there has been improvement.
"Once the dog catchers came in, the area has been more secure, been a lot better," said resident Eldon Lockhart.
But Dallas City Council members Monday said they still hear many stray dog complaints.
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"They're hanging out in our community like they're on vacation in South Beach," said Councilwoman Tiffinni Young. "It tears at my heart to see kids scared to walk to school and hiding out, late for school because they have so many stray dogs in their neighborhood."
City officials said DAS has made big improvements in the past six months. Dozens of new workers have been hired to fill staff vacancies that crippled progress last year. New technology has been added, including computers on carts in the animal shelter to speed record keeping and direct dispatch communication between 311 operators and animal control officers in the field.
Now animal control is replacing the targeted neighborhood program with a CARE team, Community Animal Resource Effort, aimed at more of Southern Dallas.
"What we've done now is taken those lessons learned, kind of rolled it out bigger, better, stronger," said Dallas Animal Services Director Jody Jones. "We need the public to calls us. You've got animal issues, please call 3-1-1, because we're going to be deploying our resources based on those calls for service."
City Council members were pleased with the progress.
"More citations, more than ever, that's good news," Councilman Rickey Callahan said.
But they were also concerned about making improvements permanent after years of struggling with dangerous stray dogs in Dallas.
"My concern, and I hope it is shared by other people, is sustainability," said Councilman Philip Kingston. "There may be some baseline level of animal service enforcement and education that we will always need to have, but I would like it to be lower. Show me a path to lower. Then that's going to make a big difference."
Critics of past animal control efforts attending the Council Quality of Life Committee briefing were optimistic.
"Yes, I think it does sound encouraging but there is also a lot of work to do," said animal activist Monica Spencer. "It will take commitment and accountability to keep that going and make it sustainable. I do think it’s sustainable because if it's successful then the problems should decrease and be less work over time hopefully."
Resident Eldon Lockhart said effective animal control is necessary for safety.
"We don't really need stray dogs in this neighborhood or around period," he said.