Maria Guerrero

Dallas Animal Services Expected to Hit Sought After ‘No-Kill' Benchmark

One Dallas city councilmember says he will ask the city manager for more money for animal services in 2019

By the stroke of midnight Dallas Animal Services could hit a long-sought after "no-kill" benchmark.

The city agency is poised to close out 2018 having picked up a lot more unwanted or stray dogs and cats while euthanizing far fewer animals in the month of December.

Still, a city leader who represents an area long plagued by loose dogs said more needs to be done in 2019 to make December's accomplishment the norm.

They are counting down the minutes at Dallas Animal Services.

"We absolutely are," shelter manager Jordan Craig said. "And we're very excited to end the year this way."

If everything holds steady, the agency would close the month of December with a live release rate of at least 90 percent.

"Looking at the fact that we'll probably be right around 91 percent is huge for us," Craig said. "That means that of the animals that came in to our care, over 90 percent made it out alive."

That is despite taking in a record number of dogs for the month.

The city agency credited thousands of adoptions, returns to owners and an increasing number of partners in rescue and foster care for the milestone.

A milestone that includes euthanizing less than 9 percent of animals in December, an historic low and the national standard for a no-kill shelter, explained Craig.

"We're doing a great job, but can we do better? Yes," Dallas City Councilmember Tennell Atkins said.

Atkins represents District 8 in southern Dallas.

It's a large, sprawling area of about 58 square miles that has long been plagued by loose dogs.

"We need to educate the citizens more," he said. "We need more information and we need more boots on the ground."

Atkins believes that a new year means a new request in order to improve on 2018's numbers.

"I'm going to be asking the city manager for more money in the budget for animal services. I think we need to hire more animal services employees in District 8."

Both Craig and Atkins said increasing education and resources was a shared goal.

"It's exciting for a lot of the people who've been here through some hard times," Craig said. "It's great to see that it's possible."

The city also pointed to citations handed out to irresponsible dog owners who don't microchip, spay or neuter their pets for the improvements.

These citations can carry hefty fines, but they can also be dismissed in court if they are corrected.

Atkins said many dog owners cannot afford the citations, which can cost thousands of dollars.

He would like to increase education to ensure dog owners, especially in rural areas, are aware of the consequences of not looking after their pets.

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