BARC's "solution" for bite cases appears to be more "Catch and Kill".
A Channel 39 news report indicates that Houston is number 1 in the nation regarding dog bites to postal workers. From this report, it appears that General Manager, David Atencio’s solution is more sweeps i.e. catch and kill. Considering this is the “solution” that has been unsuccessfully employed by BARC for decades, I would suggest that this is not a practical solution. See No Kill Houston’s letter to Mr. Atencio below asking that he search for non-lethal solutions to this issue.
No Kill Houston's open letter to BARC General Manager, David Atencio
From: No Kill Houston <email@example.com>
Subject: Dog bite report on Ch 39 and BARC's solutions
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Alfred.Moran@cityofhouston.net
Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2010
A recent news report stated that Houston is the leader in dog bites to mail carriers. http://bit.ly/boG1C1 The report stated that you had met with postal workers to address the issues.
The news report stated:
1) "… animal control will be targeting the Houston areas with the most dog bites. During McKelvey's route, animal control captured several stray dogs."
2) "A fine for an unrestrained dog is up to $600."
3) "If a dog attacks a mail carrier, the dog may be quarantined or put to sleep."
First, more sweeps will not solve this issue. I know you are not familiar with BARC’s history, but please know that BARC has been doing sweeps for decades. Since Houston is number one in dog bite stats, it is clear that sweeps are not the solution to this issue.
Second, the neighborhood shown in the news report, appeared to be a financially disadvantaged neighborhood. It is not realistic to think that people from this neighborhood can afford a fine of any amount, let alone $600. This means that the animal that BARC confiscated will not be reclaimed by his/her owner and therefore will, in all likelihood, be killed at BARC.
In addition, one of the dogs shown on the report was clearly nursing. So the "void" created by BARC picking up dogs will most likely be filled by the puppies in that back yard and other backyards in this area. As you know, the same thing occurs when feral cats are removed from an area. When you remove feral cats from an area, it creates a vacuum effect where other feral cats move in to fill the void and the cycle of killing never ends. TNR has proven to successfully, and non-lethally, reduce the population of feral cats. I would suggest that a form of TNR (Trap, Neuter and Return to Owner) for these dogs would be equally successful. Several studies have shown that unsterilized dogs are far more likely to bite. So the “TNR” of dogs, would not only reduce or eliminate aggression, it would reduce the population in those areas as well. This would also be less costly as it costs far more to catch, hold and kill an animal than it does to spay or neuter him/her. It is a win-win. Of course, I am not suggesting that dogs that are truly a danger to the public should be released, but statistics show that truly dangerous dogs are a very small minority of dogs taken to shelters.
If you look at BARC’s records regarding bite cases, I would suspect that you will find that, just like Intake numbers, most of the dog bites reported are coming from disadvantaged neighborhoods where people can not afford to have their pets spayed/neutered. So, instead of sweeps, again a better solution, all around, would be to work with these neighborhoods to help provide free or low cost spay/neuter services.
Third, we know from experience that few dogs make it out of quarantine alive. Most of the time, the owner cannot afford the fines that BARC charges while in quarantine, so they are forced to abandon their pet at BARC. And since dogs are required to stay in quarantine a number of days, they are very likely to get sick while they are at BARC. If it's a puppy, we know that it's an almost certainty that the puppy will get distemper and die. We've seen this scenario play out again and again over the years. All of this mean more death. Again, this is not a practical solution.
While the bite issue is a serious issue that should be addressed, I am urging you to please find other, non-lethal solutions, such as the ones stated above, rather than more catch and kill/sweeps.
Bett Sundermeyer, President
No Kill Houston