Dangerous Dogs May Be in for a Webbing

Net gun could be Fort Worth's latest weapon against aggressive animals.

The Super Talon Net Gun may soon become the weapon of choice for Fort Worth Police and Animal Control Officers confronted by a dangerous dog.

Officers can carry the small device, which deploys a net that is accurate to 50 feet, said Fort Worth Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett.

The net can stop a charging dog in its tracks within seconds.

"It is nonlethal," Bennett said. "The risk to the animal is very small, (and) the benefit to the community is very great."

Fort Worth is struggling with a growing dangerous dog problem.

Fort Worth residents currently own approximately 375,000 dogs, but only 15,167 are registered with the city. The number of impounded pit bull and pit bull mixes alone more than doubled in the last four years, from 2,154 in 2004 to 4,631 in 2008.

"Aggressive animals and attacks by pit bull, pit-bull mixes are on the increase," Bennett said. "Over the last four years, the number of pit bull bites has doubled in the city of Fort Worth."

The Fort Worth Police Department has seen a 52 percent increase in responses to animal-related calls in the past three years.

In 2008, Fort Worth police officers shot and killed 28 dangerous dogs. As of April 21, they have shot 10 in 2009.

"What we have found is when it comes to these aggressive animals, they are some of the more difficult ones to capture," Bennett said.

The Code Compliance Department is now offering some possible alternatives, suggesting the city bring back tranquilizer dart guns, which it stopped using after a dog was paralyzed in 1995, and begin using the Super Talon Net Gun.

City Council members were briefed about the plan before their regular meeting.

Mayor Mike Montcrief appeared receptive to the idea.

"If we're going to err in judgment, then I'm going to lean toward erring on the side of protecting the public," Montcrief said.

The Code Compliance Department is also suggesting hiking some fees, changing the definition of a dangerous dog to include more of what are now considered only aggressive dogs and revising some city ordinances to help control them.

A series of public meetings will be held throughout the city before council members make any final decisions. Two public meetings are currently scheduled at the Botanic Gardens on May 14 at 6 p.m. and June 6 at 9 a.m.

Contact Us