Complaints continue to pour into KCBD about Lubbock's Animal Services Department prompting us to continue our investigation into what can be done, if anything. According to Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson, there are problems with that department, but they fall under the domain of Assistant City Manager Quincy White who does not agree with Robertson's assessment.
During an interview with White last week we asked, "Are there problems with the current Animal Control department?"
White replied, "I don't think there are problems with our current department. We live in a city with 240,000 citizens, and we have a number of animals in this city that are running freely as a result of their owners not controlling those animals. When you have situations like that, it will certainly generate some complaints."
The majority of the complaints KCBD continues to receive center around aggressive dogs and claims that control officers do not respond or simply drive by without actively searching for the roaming dogs. Mayor Robertson admitted control officers may only stay on the scene for a short period of time because the department is so short staffed.
Robertson says he received at least 1 to 2 complaints each day that he passes along to the city manager's office. When we asked White if he was receiving the complaints he continued to say the department is not receiving them and therefore he doesn't see a problem with the way animal services is being run.
"I can't fix it if I don't know it's broken, and quite frankly based on the number of calls we've received in the city council office and in the city manager office, complaints have gone down drastically," White said.
So if animal services is not at fault and KCBD continues to receive complaints, what is going on?
White says the real issue is that many pet owners are not responsible for their animals which accounts for the large number of strays roaming the streets. Last year alone, White says 17,000 animals were brought into Lubbock's shelter. Out of those, 5,000 were dead animals and about 2,700 were adopted out or reclaimed by their owners. That means more than 9,000 animals were left at the shelter and White says a large number of those were euthanized.
"You are always going to have problems with a department like animal services because you have people that don't take care of their animals properly, and until we can educate the public and improve on that end, we're going to have people that believe we didn't get there quick enough," White said.
So how do you reduce the number of strays? Do control officers need to write more citations to give owners an incentive to be more responsible?
White doesn't think so. "If we're having problems getting people to reclaim their animals at a cost of $50, can you imagine what it would be like if we issued citations for dogs at large not having their vaccination shots and you added an additional $300 to that $50? Do you think that is going to encourage people to pick up their animals?" White asked.
We asked what the point is in having a law if it wasn't going to be enforced. "Well, you just have to use discretion," he said. "One of the things we have to look at is the possibility of the person retrieving the animal," he said.
"There is absolutely nothing animal control can do other than try to educate the public in terms of how you take care of an animal," he said. "At the same time, I don't think the citizens of Lubbock are willing to pay the burden that would require us to be a 24/7 operation."
White says if you have any issues or complaints with animal services, you can call his office at 775-2015 or the Lubbock Animal Services Director at 775-2002.
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