A pack of dogs ...

... has been roving East Dallas, reportedly killing as many as 25 cats.

Last night, they killed our two younger cats. We didn't hear the dogs because of a rampaging electrical storm. Found the bodies this morning. The youngest cat was less than a year old.

Hell of a way to start a day. Something similar happened almost 10 years ago, and we thought the situation had changed. You can read my column from that time on the jump.

No more scenes from a maul, please

by Jerome Weeks

On Saturday, Feb. 14, Sara and I were cleaning house when we heard a thump on our front porch. We assumed it was the mailman, but the thump was followed by an explosion of barking and honking.

We ran to the front door, our daughter trailing us. As we scrambled out on the porch, we were just in time for her to see her cat being tossed around like a limp rag by two dogs.

We chased the dogs off. We buried the cat.

Later that day, the young woman who had honked at the dogs drove back by. She was sorry for not getting out of her car to chase them away. But she had a good reason. Several months earlier, she told us, in an alley a few blocks away, she'd been set upon by a pack of dogs.

The doctors gave her 16 stitches.

So we reported everything to the city's Animal Control. The operator told us that rabies prevention is their primary function. So bite victims and trapped animals are priorities. In cases like ours, it's often little use sending out a team. By the time it arrives, the dogs are gone.

True enough, we thought. It wasn't until we hung up that we thought, well, what should Animal control do in such cases? Should we risk capturing the pack ourselves and then wait for someone to show up?

Here, Spot, gnaw on my arm until the Animal SWAT team arrives.

When we related all of this to our neighbors, they said, funny, a nearby relative lost a cat recently. And her friends reported seeing dogs running up on her porch.

We live in a pleasant, older, middle-class neighborhood next to the M streets. And we seem to have a serious stray-dog problem.

It's your problem, too. In subsequent calls to Animal Control -- because of other stray dogs running into back yards -- we learned that dogs are probably Animal Control's biggest headahce and they field calls for help from all over the city.

We also learned that Animal Control does hope we'd capture the dogs ourselves. They provide humane traps, large enough to hold a big dog.

Sara and I seriously considered this, although it seems a slow and ineffective remedy. Terry Kinsworthy, the manager of Animal Control, says the traps work best when the pack has become territorial and settled down in an area; you know they're coming back. The strays in our neighborhood don't appear for weeks. We also tried to figure where such a cage would be practical. Inside our fenced back yard? In the alley, where the sanitation gtrucks and phone repair vehicles regularly crush anything we put there?

There must be a more aggressive approach. But we coudn't think of one -- other than costly patrols.

Then last month, a stray cat gave birth to kittens under our neighbor's house. Our daughter has left them food and water, and Sara and I discussed when we should help our neighbors take them to the animal shelter. Perhaps when the kittens are weaned in a few weeks.

But last weekend, we heard a ferocious racket outside. This time, when we tore out, we were armed with poles.

We were too late. Once again, my daughter, just turned 8, got to see a kitten torn to pieces in front of her by a roaring pack of dogs.

These incidents leave the normally sensible Sara in a rage. She knows the dogs are just being dogs, but she could easily kill them. She's furious at the careless, stupid owners, of course, the ones who don't mind that Rover jumps his fence nightly. Or they just gave up on feeding Little Binkers when he became too much trouble and now Litttle Binkers is Large, Feral, Dangerous Binkers.

"Bottom line," Mr. Kinsworthy says, "we deal with animals because somebody wasn't responsible."

Sara, who's from here, is mad at what Mr. Kinsworthy calls the "good old Southern mentality" that doesn't mind dogs wandering loose. She's mad at Texas' fine skinflint tradition of underfunding government services, mad at the ineffectual options our city agency offers.

But what really upsets her is the thought that one of these days, we're going to run outside, and it'll be a child.

copyright, The Dallas Morning News, 1998

May 9, 2007 9:24 AM | | Comments (1)



I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. My heart just hurts for you.

Here's hoping the Dallas Animal Services captures these dogs soon.


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