ACS workers: Too many stray dogs on streets
City says stray problem getting better
San Antonio Animal Care Services workers say residents are in danger of dog bites because there is not enough space for the strays, while the city says the stray problem is getting better.
Animal Care Officer John Dalton is one of three ACOs who said they are sometimes forced to leave stray dogs on the streets because of overcrowding in the shelter.
"I drive by packs every day no matter what district I'm working in,” Dalton said. “It's a big safety concern."
Three officers are now speaking out about ACS not having enough space for strays, not enough workers and a changes in hours.
ACO Gabriel Rodriguez said managers are also enforcing a quota system about how many citations should be given out.
"My job description states I'm supposed to issue citations, but I didn't know I was supposed to hit a certain number," Rodriguez said.
ACO John Hernandez has 20 years of experience with the city and said in previous years, officers were able to better control the strays.
"Animal Care Services back under Animal Control was a public service to the citizens of San Antonio,” Hernandez said. “And now it's more of a business."
They also say they are being punished for speaking out.
"I do feel that we're being retaliated against," Dalton said.
ACS Director Kathy Davis said she is happy to hear about the ACOs’ concerns.
"I welcome all dialog from our folks," Davis said.
She said changes are occurring but that ACS is euthanizing fewer animals than years past and picking up more stray and unwanted animals.
"From 30,000 (in 2011) to 35,000 (in 2012),” Davis said. “That's a huge jump. And this year we expect to be on track to pick up exactly that, another 35,000."
She says when the new Brackenridge facility opens there will be more space to hold animals and adopt them out. She said the city has also made an agreement with the Animal Defense League for a shelter and adoption area. She said she understands why the workers are complaining.
"They're having to work differently," Davis said.
She said that includes learning new technology that is now being used to send officers to calls and track their whereabouts.
Trucks are also equipped with technology to help them get to calls faster.
Davis said these changes represent growing pains for ACS and may be simply a pain for some workers.
ACS Figures show in 2012 there were 4,438 bite cases in San Antonio and through the end of May 2013 there have been 1,840 cases.
ACS is investigating allegations that workers were told they would not have a job if they did not meet their quota for handing out citations.
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