Disposable cameras used to tackle Houston's homeless dog crisis

HOUSTON Three non-profit agencies are teaming up to shed light on the homeless animals living and often suffering on Bayou City streets. It s a brand new effort to tackle a crisis in Houston that s difficult to ignore.

Barrio Dogs, DiverseWorks and Box 13 have handed out disposable cameras to people willing to hit the streets and help out.

Participants have already captured a plethora of photos of dogs and other animals not being cared for.

The volunteer photographers range in age from young to old, and a number of photos have already been loaded to a Flickr page.

I just thought it was something she wanted to do because she likes animals, said George Castaneda, father of a 9-year-old participant. It was a little eye opening. Living in this neighborhood, you see them, but you don t think about it.

Third grader Samantha Castaneda drove around with her parents and captured as many photographs as she could.

She says it wasn t hard to find stray dogs in her east end neighborhood.

I want to help all the stray dogs in the neighborhood so they can get homes, explained Samantha Castaneda.

Some of the photographs will be on display beginning this Saturday at the DiverseWorks studio on Fannin Street from 2-4 p.m.

The exhibit called No One s Dogs will be open to the public through August 9th.

We re a wealthy, smart city, and I don t understand why we haven t been able to get our arms around this problem, said Gloria Zenteno, founder of the non-profit Barrio Dogs.

Gloria Zenteno believes it s not just irresponsible pet owners contributing to the problem but also a lack of resources and education.

She hopes more people will volunteer and foster after seeing the exhibit. Zenteno would also like people to write elected officials and ask for more low cost spay and neuter programs.

It s become a health problem, a safety problem and a quality of life concern for residents, explained Zenteno. It s a sad, sad thing for the city.

Organizers of No One s Dogs acknowledge that it may be difficult for people to see some of the photos on display.

I think my boss Elizabeth and I teared up a couple of times because it s pretty overwhelming, said Jennifer Gardner, Director of External Affairs at DiverseWorks. I m hoping that they don t see it and throw up their hands but say I m going to roll up my sleeves and help.

BARC, formally known as the Bureau for Animal Regulation and Care, recently estimated there to be more than one million homeless animals in Houston.

An additional $2.9 million dollars was added to BARC s upcoming budget, which will go toward more animal control officers and support staff.


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