Watch CBS News

Dog bites have surged as number of Dallas animal control officers plummet

Dog bites have surged as number of Dallas animal control officers plummet
Dog bites have surged as number of Dallas animal control officers plummet 01:58

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - 5-year-old Kavaughn was walking home from the school bus on his birthday in February when a dog roaming his Dallas apartment complex lunged.

Neighbors saw it lock its jaws around his face and neck.

"The dog was shaking him like a rag doll," recalled Abrienne Brown.

The attack, which nearly claimed his life, was one of 805 involving loose dogs reported to the city of Dallas over the fiscal year that ended in September.

Data provided by Dallas Animal Services shows that's a big jump from previous years when the number never topped 620.

You may remember the city made its loose dog problem a priority in 2016 after a pack of dogs attacked and killed a woman named Antoinette Brown in southern Dallas.

But DAS reports its been ill equipped this past year to tackle the challenge because of one clear reason.

"The lack of officers you have out there," said Paul Ramon, DAS interim assistant director over field operations.  

Ramon reports the increase in loose dog bites aligns closely with the decrease in staff.

As recently as August, two thirds of all field officer positions were vacant.

That's resulted in fewer people available to respond to calls from concerned neighbors and no one at all to patrol areas where loose dogs are known to be a problem.

"It's very stressful on the staff as well to know that because of some of the issues we're going through that we're not able to respond or we couldn't help prevent that issue from happening," said Ramon.

He says the city has increased pay and started offering incentives to attract more job candidates. That's helped him recruit 10 new officers, now in training.  

He's hoping to fill the remaining 12 positions in the coming month. As the agency increases its staff levels, he's also planning to launch a loose dog operation, focusing their efforts on the neighborhoods where dog bites are most common.  

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.