New animal control laws are among a list of measures approved by the Dallas City Council Wednesday on its last meeting before a July recess.
Among other things, the animal control laws make people responsible for injuries to people or pets caused by their animals that get loose.
“The owner will receive a criminal penalty and I’m very excited about that because in the past the penalty has been exclusively on the animal, usually euthanasia,” said Animal Shelter Commission Member Stephanie Timko.
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The changes also allow animal control officers to rescue animals deemed to be in danger of death. Situations might include dogs tethered in Texas heat where owners are not present.
“The ability to get animals in certain situations out of certain bad situations is going to help us immediately,” said Animal Services Director Ed Jamison.
He was confronted outside the council meeting by show dog owners upset about a existing provision that requires the city to neuter all animals released from the city shelter. The show dog owners want an exemption for out of state animals that may wind up at the shelter by accident.
“It’s a grave concern for us being able to reclaim our dogs in tact if they get impounded,” said Ann Wolf with the San Jacinto Beagle Club.
A dog show is planned next week in Dallas with animals from around the nation.
“The city has spoken that they want to have animals altered,” Jamison explained.
Dallas leaders want loose animals removed from city streets after the death of a woman two years ago from a dog attack and several more dog attack injuries since then.
Unchecked breeding of stray animals is one cause of the loose dog problem in Dallas. But animal activists say people allowing dogs to run loose are the largest problem.
“We’re trying to get ahead of some of the anticipated problems that happen in the summer,” Council Member Sandy Greyson said.
Only Councilman Omar Narvaez voted against the animal control measures saying he was not satisfied with the performance of Dallas Animal Services.
Other Council Members said they want to add more animal service officers to improve enforcement.
Officials said amendments to the animal laws may come in the fall. In the meantime, show dog owners said they would work to see that their animals do not wind up in the Dallas Shelter.
On Wednesday the Dallas City Council also approved motorized scooter on city streets and a companion set of regulations for shared scooters and bikes. The regulations include registration fees for shared bike and scooter companies that may tend to limit the number of vehicles they place around the city.