KCBD Investigates the County Canine Crisis: Elected officials weigh in on animals being dumped in Lubbock County

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 7:39 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - We have an update on our County Canine Crisis investigation.

Since our first report, viewers flooded our newsroom with similar stories of dogs being dumped all over the South Plains.

Shannon Stark lives in Lubbock County and said there are nearly a dozen dogs roaming around her property. She has always had a problem with stray dogs, and not all of them are friendly.

“My husband came and got me and said, ‘I need your help, there are two dogs that are in the pen with your goats,’” Stark said.

The two dogs killed one of her goats and injured two others.

“These are my babies, just like my barn cats are my babies,” Stark said.

Stark had to put one of her barn cats down after it was attacked by a stray dog. She said abandoned and stray dogs are creating dangerous and costly problems.

She leases out some of her land to people who keep their horses on her pasture. Stark said dogs attacked one of those horses.

“She had it sold. When they ran it through the fence, it ripped tendons and she couldn’t sell it anymore. That’s her livelihood too,” Stark said.

She says the dogs that are wandering around her property right now are not aggressive, so the sheriff’s office will not respond. But since she lives outside city limits, she can’t take them to a city shelter, and she said the rescues she has called are full.

“They have no fosters, and they just don’t have any room,” Stark said. “I just don’t know what the answer is.”

Heather Rothwell is the director of the Good Dog Gang, a rescue focusing primarily on pregnant and nursing dogs and abandoned puppies. Rothwell said she has about seven or eight fosters that are caring for 85 dogs.

“The shelters around us are full, over-capacity. The rescues within about a 120-mile radius around us are full, fosters are full, our personal homes are full,” Rothwell said.

Rothwell recently took in three puppies found on the side of the road.

“A man was driving down the Slaton Highway and saw a trash bag and thought something didn’t look right,” Rothwell.

Rothwell said thankfully the man pulled over and looked inside the trash bag. He found three puppies about six weeks old.

“They are sweet, they are very friendly, snuggly, just little innocent lives,” Rothwell said.

Rothwell has found homes for two of those puppies. The third puppy is now at an out-of-state rescue.

Joan Huskey lives outside the Slaton city limits and called her County Commissioner, Jason Corley, to find out what resources are available for county residents.

“He said, ‘What do you want me to do, lady? Do you want me to propose to raise county taxes and propose that we build a Lubbock County animal shelter?’” Huskey said.

“That might be helpful, yeah. I pay my taxes for everything else, I might as well pay my taxes for something useful,” Huskey told him.

“‘I’ll tell you what I’ll do,’ he said. ' I will draw you up a proposal and you give me your address and I’ll mail that out to you,’” Huskey recalled.

“I said, ‘Go ahead and do that, I’ll get behind that.’ That’s how our conversation went,” Huskey said.

Huskey said she has not yet received the proposal.

We spoke with Corley to learn more about that offer.

“So one of the things I had agreed to look into was creating a pound, working out an agreement with the City of Lubbock or if Lubbock County could create its own, just to get an idea of what that cost was. It would be pretty expensive,” Corley said.

Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish said no one has talked to him about partnering with the city or building a county shelter.

“If I were just guessing, it would be in the multimillions, probably 20 to 30 million dollars which, really, just for the Lubbock county budget is not feasible,” Parrish said.

Still, some residents think a shelter isn’t a bad idea.

“I think if the county people know that some of their money was going to something like that, it really wouldn’t be that big of a deal for our taxes to be raised a bit because right now we don’t know what our money goes to. Our roads are terrible, so it’s not going there,” said Lubbock County resident Shana Drum.