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HomeGeneralParents Call for Action After Roaming Dogs Chase and Bite Children

Parents Call for Action After Roaming Dogs Chase and Bite Children

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A picture of parents calling for immediate action
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The Southwest Little Rock community in Arkansas’ capital has long grappled with the issue of stray dogs. However, residents say it has gotten worse over time. According to them, some owners abandoned their dogs. Hence, they became strays. 

However, the other strays belong to people who allow them to wander freely. Consequently, incidents of dogs chasing or attacking children have heightened concerns among residents like Patricia Harvey. “I’m not gonna let no dog bite no children or nobody around me,” said 67-year-old Harvey.

In November, residents in the primarily lower-income neighborhood took to the streets. They held a rally to push the city to do more to deal with strays. They alleged that Little Rock’s animal control officers are inadequate and asked for more public education on leash laws.

In addition, they requested the removal of a $25 fee for pet surrenders and increased patrols in problematic areas. The removal encourages people to drop dogs off at shelters rather than on the streets.

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On the other hand, the city says four supervisors also have animal-control duties. However, it admits that competitive salaries in other municipalities make recruiting and retaining employees challenging. Aside from the Little Rock community, many cities, including Dallas, Oklahoma City, and Houston, struggle with strays.

According to Shelter Animals Count, the U.S. recorded about a 5% increase in the number of stray dogs entering shelters in the first three quarters of 2023 compared with the previous year. Conversely, the organization said the number of dogs reclaimed decreased by 3.5% over the same period.

However, data on whether owners abandon, lose, or do not restrain the strays is not available. According to the shelters, such information takes a lot of work to obtain. Nonetheless, advocates said the uptick in stray dogs and shelters being over capacity is due to families’ economic challenges.

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According to advocates, the economic challenges lead to a lack of access to veterinary care and affordable housing. Also, it leads to uncontrolled breeding and stops owners from separating or neutering their pets. Lindsay Hamrick, director of shelter outreach and engagement with the Humane Society of the United States, expressed her concern.

“When the economic pressures increase, that’s going to affect all parts of the family, including the pets,” she said. Hamrick added that shelters report surrenders because of a lack of access to pet-friendly housing. “People are either getting evicted or can’t afford to stay where they were before,” she added.

Mitzi Brogdon, director of Street Dog Rescue & Recovery in Oklahoma City, also buttressed Hamrick’s opinion. She said people often abandon dogs in remote areas such as Lake Stanley Draper. According to her, she recently found an emaciated, 43-pound Great Dane in the reservoir. “No one is going to know what you went down there to do,” Brogdon said.

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In southwest Little Rock, residents describe dogs on the streets and unprovoked attacks. 53-year-old Eric Grimes claimed a dog attacked his grandson as he rode his bike on the street in July. Consequently, his grandson, Nehemiah Grimes, ended up with bites on his arms and legs that needed stitches. “You see dogs everywhere around here,” Grimes said.

Similarly, Crystal Alexander-Berry said loose dogs attacked her 10-year-old daughter, Victorious Batson, twice. Consequently, Alexander-Berry’s daughter had to get a round of rabies shots after a dog bit her the second time. “These are lives out here, and it’s not right for kids not to be able to play outside,” Alexander-Berry said.

Following the frequent complaints, the city approved a budget effective Jan. 1, 2024. The budget reportedly includes a 2% salary increase for animal control officers. While this will solve the problem of inadequate animal control officers, the residents hope it will be enough. 

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