Dog attacks on the decline, owner education working, ACS says

By Stephanie Serna - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - When a pack of dogs recently attacked a man and the San Antonio police officer who came to his rescue, it turned a spotlight on a dangerous trend in San Antonio, the danger of loose dogs.

Those dogs, originally thought to be a pack of strays, actually were owned animals, who were running loose on the streets.

Both men who were attacked are out of the hospital and recovering.

But, finding a solution to the problem of loose dogs roaming the streets is still a work in progress, according to Shannon Sims, field operations manager for Animal Care Services.

"What we find is that about 70 percent of the animals running loose are actually owned animals," said Sims. "So, we got a real big problem with irresponsible pet ownership."

"In a lot of the neighborhoods, it's kind of been the way to let your animal out when you go to work and he'll come back," said Sims. "Those are the areas that we had to do a lot more work in."

ACS is reporting 826 bites so far this fiscal year. That's compared to 886 bites during the same time period last year.

These 23 ZIP codes are the most common areas for loose dogs throughout the city. They are also the areas with the most bite cases.

Officials said that's proof that the push for "leash not loose," which was launched last year is working.

While responding to calls, officers try to educate residents about the dangers of loose pets. While a KSAT crew followed a couple of ACS officers, there were a few loose pets that ran back to their owners' yards.

Those families received a warning.

"Basically, we were responding to an injured call and en route to the injured call, we had a few loose dogs that were here," said Jessica Travis, an ACS officer. "We followed them home. Surprisingly, one of them on each side of the street and we just made contact with the owners, did some educating, (and said) ‘Your pets need to be supervised.’"

Another complication: the staggering number of calls to ACS -- more than 107,000 last year alone.

With only 40 officers to handle those calls, something has to give. Calls for animal bites, attacks or injured dogs take priority, such as a dog KSAT encountered on a call.

"The description was that the animal was in very poor condition and has sores on its body," said Travis. "One of these calls is too many."

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