HOUSTON—About the only thing as common as a stray dog roaming through Houston’s Fifth Ward are the complaints from residents who’ve called animal control they believe to no avail.
“They say, ‘we’ll see what we can do and we’ll be out,’” said Carlotta Garcia. “This is about the third month and I still haven’t seen them out here.”
Cynthia Hall, who also lives in the neighborhood, agreed.
“It’s not safe,” she said. “It’s obviously not safe.”
This week the problem turned violent when a 52-year-old woman waiting for a city bus was mauled Monday by a pack of 15 stray dogs.
Maria Arcos was listed in fair condition Wednesday at Ben Taub Hospital.
The president of Houston’s SPCA blamed BARC for failing to do its job.
“They have withdrawn a lot of services in terms of responding to stray animals in the city,” said Patricia Mercer. “As a result, I think what you will see is people are complaining and feel helpless because their neighborhoods are overrun with stray animals.”
But a BARC spokesperson insisted the department is doing the best that it can.
Christopher Newport said BARC had just 23 animal control officers patrolling a city believed to contain up to 1.2 million homeless animals.
“We’ve taken 50,000 animals off the streets in the last two years with those 23 guys,” said Newport. “And I think that is a heck of an undertaking.”
But Newport conceded they’ve made just a small dent in the overall problem.
And that left some residents feeling trapped between a stray and a solution.
“Something needs to be done,” said Garcia.