The Southern Dallas Spay Neuter Surge, a privately funded program, ended in October after nearly six years. The end of this project does not mean, however, that there will be an increase in dog attacks.
Major providers participating in the program, including the SPCA of Texas and Spay Neuter Network, have a stronger presence in South Dallas, and the city is better equipped to handle unsettled situations. Most importantly, animal advocates say there has been a cultural shift in South Dallas, with many residents now well aware that caring for their dogs is also a public safety issue.
Southern Dallas Spay Neuter Surge has sterilized a total of 68,000 dogs and provided core and microchipped vaccines, according to a recent city memo. A 58% decrease in the number of stray dogs in South Dallas since 2016 is evidence of the program’s success.
Even with its two-and-a-half-year extension, Southern Dallas Spay Neuter Surge has always been on the horizon, said Aaron Asmus, project manager. Asmus is the CEO of the Resourceful Elephant Group, one of more than a dozen community organizations that were part of the boom that served 23 zip codes.
“The intent of the project was to bring the community to a place where it hadn’t been before […] Create an environment for future success, Asmus said.
South Dallas is in a much better shape than it was in 2016 when 52-year-old Antoinette Brown was killed by a pack of dogs. The tragedy was a wake-up call for the city. Increased neuter spaying was included among the recommendations of the Boston Consulting Group, a company brought in by the city to study the problem of stray dogs after Brown’s death.
Without the charitable payment for the increase — roughly $24 million over her lifetime — much of the weight for dog sterilization would now fall on Dallas Animal Services. DAS Director Melissa Weber told us she’s confident South Dallas will “stay on a course that won’t send us back into more dog attacks.”
People who receive stray dog quotes can decline the ticket and have their pet spayed with a $20 combined surgery to DAS, which has partnered with Spay Neuter Network and Operation Kindness for spay/neuter events. These grassroots efforts have been instrumental in changing the cultural mindset in South Dallas, Asmus said.
But setbacks can still occur, as happened in March 2022, when a bull attack caused a woman to be hospitalized. This unfortunate event led to the creation of the five-member Loose Dog Operations Team under DAS. With the help of residents calling 311 to report stray dogs, the team uses a heat map to assess hot spots and aggressive behaviors. Loose dog bites are down 20% compared to last year, according to the DAS.
This is good news. While city officials and residents of South Dallas must remain vigilant, we should take a moment to reflect on just how far we’ve come.
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