Dallas Animal Services euthanasia rate up 86% over last year

Dallas Animal Services saw an 86% increase in euthanasia for this fiscal year compared to last year.

The department is also facing staffing shortages and the city is seeing an increase in dog bites.

“I keep reading on Facebook and Nextdoor that Animal Control isn’t responding to 311 calls. That’s a big deal,” a commissioner said Thursday at a meeting of the Animal Advisory Board.

“We are working on it,” said DAS acting deputy director Paul Ramon. “Due to vacancies, we only have 3 to 4 [Animal Services Officers] for the city. We need to focus on injury calls first.”

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Admission to the field of off-leash dogs is at its lowest in 5 years, at 7,900 dogs. In 2020, the city welcomed 20,300 dogs.

Dog bites are now at the highest level the city has seen in 5 years.

A key number that animal advocates use to judge a shelter’s performance is the release rate, the number of dogs returned to their owners, adopted or placed.

Dallas achieved the sought-after live release rate of 93% in 2020, earning it no-kill safe haven status.

Now that number is down to 82%, with 3,294 euthanasias. A jump of 86% compared to 2021.

The new director, MeLissa Webber, has come under fire from some animal advocates, but on Thursday the former director of the department, who now works for Operation Kindness, came to her defense.

“She knows what she’s doing. She’s been doing this for a long time. Coming out of COVID and a pandemic, how she handled the staff. The fact that she was able to get bonuses for the performance of the officers, that’s huge.” he said “She’s probably not getting the credit she deserves.”

Webber said the city is making progress on staff shortages.

Vacancies for animal services officers were at 66% in August, but have now fallen to 25%.

At the meeting, the commissioners offered their support to Webber.

“MeLissa is doing a great job.”

FOX 4 asked Webber what was causing the increase in euthanasia. She told me there were several factors, including an increase in distemper and capacity.

Dallas Animal Services partners with code compliance and workforce solutions to host mass hiring events.

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Jennifer R. Strohm