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Pack of wild dogs terrorize 9-year-olds; grandparents want city, county to do more about problem

By Melissa Crowe
Jan. 21, 2012 at 9:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 20, 2012 at 7:21 p.m.

Two wandering dogs run around in a small field less than a block away from the bus stop on Allen Road where Jordan and Aaron Ross would catch a bus for school. The pair are part of a larger group of dogs that are  frightening the Ross children enough to send them running back home to safety on several occasions.

How to get help

To report loose dogs, call the animal control department at 361- 578-3564, or if it is an emergency call the police at 911.

Not long after walking to the bus stop, Aaron and Jordan Ross, 9-year-old twins, sprinted back home.

A pack of dogs, appeared seemingly from nowhere, snarling and barking, in the boy's neighborhood on Allen Street. Loose dogs roam the entire neighborhood.

After about five months of run-ins with the animals and calls to the city and county, their grandfather, Rufus Diggs, 71, said he is fed up.

"I'm just trying to look out for my grandsons," Diggs, a retired Houston resource teacher, said. "I don't want to be harassed by some loose dog."

Heather Kern, assistant supervisor at Victoria County Animal Control, said the department answers about 250 calls each month regarding loose dogs. Last October, 355 calls came in.

The problem is not limited to one part of the county, Kern said.

"We only work on a complaint-basis - we cover all of Victoria County," she said. "The calls come from one end (of the county) to the other."

Diggs said wild, loose dogs inside city-limit neighborhoods is ridiculous.

When complaints come in, Animal Control's protocol is to send a police officer to the location of the call to try to catch the animal, Kern said.

The department also has four traps it will set for free to catch the animal. However, those traps are reserved on a priority-basis regarding violent, aggressive or diseased animals first, she said.

Diggs has not attempted to reserve a trap.

O.C. Garza, director of communications for the city, said Victoria's ordinances require all animals to be controlled.

"Technically, that means restrained," he said. "You have to be able to control your animal."

According to the ordinance, listed under Section 4-40 of the city code, it is illegal for an animal owner "to fail to exercise control over such animal to prevent it from threatening, chasing or attacking passing persons, vehicles or other animals."

The ordinance also addresses damage to private or public property.

It is also a crime for an owner to fail to control his or her animal to prevent it from "barking, whining or howling ... as to annoy, distress or disturb" people.

The first time Diggs' grandsons mentioned the dogs, he tried to boost their courage.

"They're 9-year-olds; I thought they should be able to look out for themselves," Diggs said. "I told them to get a stick."

The persistent pack of dogs kept threatening Diggs' family.

The dogs have an owner, but Diggs said he does not know who.

Diggs said he called the school district and had the bus stop changed. He called the city and the county and got nowhere.

"I just felt they didn't think it was a serious problem," Diggs said.

He said he wants the city to create a position specifically to address loose animal problems and issue citations to violators.

"It's frightening my grandsons," Diggs said. "They can't even ride their bicycles around in the neighborhood."

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