HOUSTON A part of southeast Houston has so many stray dogs that there are not enough city employees to pick the animals up. So, some people have started taking matters into their own hands with guns.

This is not a safe place for them to be, said Emily Crossley, founder of Backstreet Brutality Relief Rescue.

Crossley can t leave strays in southeast Houston alone. She drives around with bags of dog food and vaccines for the animals in her car. They are her weakness, especially when they wind up in veterinary hospitals, like the Great Dane mix named Big Boy.

Two days ago, Crossley s relief group found Big Boy lying in a ditch.

We thought he d been hit by a car, she said. It turned out on X-rays that he d actually been shot in the spine.

The damage is so severe, Big Boy is paralyzed. His hind legs may never move again.

He does have sensation in his toes, which gives us hope for recovery, said Samantha Kegge, Big Boy s vet.

Police have not named a suspect in the shooting. Other stray dogs roaming the same area have suffered similar crimes, Crossley said. In the last two weeks, one dog was attacked by teenage girls with bats. Another dog was attacked by a man in a pick-up truck trying to run the animal over in an empty parking lot.

Neighbors complained that strays cause problems, damage property and get little to no attention from Houston s animal control department. A spokesman for the city said they get about 250 calls on stray animals a day, but have just seven people to respond. As a result, the city responds based on priority. Dangerous dogs or animals that have bitten someone get immediate response.

The city of Houston needs to sit down and talk about the problem with stray animals, Crossley said.

She believes that better handling strays will cut down violence against animals in the area. However, without a bigger budget, the city s hands seem to be tied.

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