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Bites from owned dogs, rather than stray dogs a growing issue for southern Dallas

When a woman died in 2016 from a loose dog attack, it motivated the city to make changes. While many streets are safer, southern Dallas is facing a new issue.
Our cameras were there as Gwennette Bracken confronted loose dogs in her neighborhood on the way to work.

DALLAS — Years after a woman was brutally killed by a pack of loose dogs, Dallas Animal Services has reported improvements in the stray dog problem. 

But southern Dallas is now facing a new issue: an increase in bites from owned dogs. City leaders once worried most about stray dogs.  

Leaders from Dallas Animal Services gave a two-hour presentation Wednesday to the Dallas City Council, outlining what has changed since 52-year-old Antoinette Brown died after she was attacked by a pack of dogs in 2016 in South Dallas. 

Brown's death brought more attention to the problem of loose dogs in the area. 

There are fewer loose dogs on the street, resulting in fewer reported bites. The number of bites from loose dogs is down 26% from 752 in 2016 to 558 in 2019.

But 77% of those bites in 2019 come from loose dogs who have owners, said Ed Jamison, director of DAS since October 2017. 

"That's what we are trying to throw our energy at is reducing this number," Jamison said.

Credit: Dallas Animal Services
Each dot in this graph shows a reported dog bite in Dallas during 2019, according to Dallas Animal Services.

RELATED: Dallas woman dies from injuries in dog attack

But the animal services has to strike the balance between getting dogs off the streets while also reducing the number of animals euthanized each year. 

Jamison says his team has managed to do both. 

The number of euthanized dogs has decreased every year from 2012 to 2019, dropping more than 72%. Dallas has also picked up 50% more dogs annually since the end of the 2016 fiscal year to 2019, according to Jamison.

Credit: Dallas Animal Services
The number of dogs euthanized has decreased every year from 2012 to 2019, according to Dallas Animal Services.

After the presentation, many City Council members praised Jamison and his staff for the work they have done. 

"This is really the first time I've felt like we're going in the right direction," said Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough.

Councilman Tennell Atkins said people are still dumping their dogs in his district, which includes parts of southeast Dallas and Oak Cliff. While things have improved, the problem hasn't gone away, Atkins said. 

He said there is still "a major problem" between Interstate 35E and Polk Street. 

"Citizens can still not walk there. They still walk around with golf clubs and baseball bats and sticks right now," Atkins said. 

Jamison said his team continues to educate residents in these areas about places to spay and neuter pets.

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