Foundations Team Up to Reduce Number of Loose Dogs and Improve Public Safety in Southern Dallas

March 30, 2017

Communities Foundation of Texas, The Rees-Jones Foundation and The Dallas Foundation are teaming up to fund an aggressive spay/neuter initiative to drastically reduce the number of loose dogs across southern Dallas. Communities Foundation of Texas awarded a grant of $3 million over 18 months from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation; The Rees-Jones Foundation has awarded $10 million over the next three years to support the initiative and The Dallas Foundation has awarded $450,000 over the next 12 months from several funds it manages.

“The loose dog situation in southern Dallas plagues our citizens on a daily basis, reducing their quality of life by limiting their ability to have full enjoyment of their neighborhoods and causing them to fear for their safety and the safety of their children,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. “This initiative is a direct response to the calls from the community and the leadership of my southern Dallas colleagues on the City Council to find a solution to this problem.  Solving the loose dog emergency will play a key role in creating the GrowSouth ‘Culture of Clean’ in southern Dallas with secure neighborhoods where residents are safe and economic development can thrive.  I thank these fine Dallas institutions for once again partnering with the City to improve the lives of our citizens.”

Based on the recommendations of the Boston Consulting Group (“BCG”) report issued in August 2016, the coalition will provide approximately 46,000 free surgeries for dogs per year for each of the next three years, with the goal of dramatically reducing the birth rate of dogs and thereby reducing the population of loose dogs in southern Dallas. The total cost of the surge is expected to be approximately $24 million.  The three grants will fund activities by SPCA of Texas, the Spay Neuter Network and Operation Kindness.  The coalition will be managed by Aaron Asmus of Resourceful Elephant Group, a veteran of spay/neuter surges in other cities.

“This ground-breaking initiative is the most aggressive among any major city in the U.S.,” said Peter Brodsky, chairman of the Dallas Animal Advisory Commission. “It’s a smart, data-driven approach that will end a problem that affects humans and animals alike. Spaying and neutering not only increases public safety by decreasing the loose dog population and the number of animal bites, it reduces unnecessary euthanasia.  Thanks to the generosity of these three funders, we are more than halfway to our fundraising goal. We look forward to discussions with other local and national funders in the coming months about supporting this effort to fundamentally alter the landscape for humans and animals in our city.”

The spay/neuter surge will help alleviate a problem that has plagued parts of southern Dallas for decades. An estimated 8,700 loose dogs roam through southern Dallas – compared to virtually no loose dogs in North Dallas – and incidents of dog bites in southern Dallas have increased 15 percent annually since 2013. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, nearly 85 percent of dog bites involve animals that are not spayed or neutered.

According to the BCG study, approximately 15 percent of dogs in southern Dallas are spayed or neutered vs. approximately 80 percent in North Dallas.  The surge will seek to dramatically increase the percentage of spayed or neutered dogs in southern Dallas by addressing the root causes of the low spay/neuter rate.

Speaking on behalf of the coalition, Brodsky added, “This group effort will seek to provide solutions to the three primary obstacles to spay/neuter surgeries in southern Dallas: access, affordability and information, specifically the lack of veterinary services in southern Dallas; the high cost of spay/neuter surgeries; and the lack of awareness about the benefits to both humans and animals of spay/neuter.  By working with the community to provide the information and then offering accessible and free services, we know we can accomplish our audacious goals.”

In addition to providing free surgeries, the agencies also plan to expand community outreach programs in the area, including free animal vaccinations, pet wellness exams, and resources to educate residents on responsible pet ownership.  While not a focus of the initiative, residents will also be offered free spay/neuter surgeries for their pet cats.

Communities Foundation of Texas’ grant is earmarked to support the SPCA of Texas’ Community Pet Program, which aims to complete 30,000 free spay/neuter surgeries in 11 targeted zip codes in the initiative’s first 18 months. To accomplish the goal, the SPCA of Texas will add a mobile surgery vehicle, expand existing clinics and add transport services to pick up and drop off dogs on surgery days.

“We believe strongly in making southern Dallas a safer community for both people and pets,” said Monica Egert Smith, senior director of strategic philanthropy at Communities Foundation of Texas. 

“Communities Foundation of Texas has great confidence in the capacity of the SPCA of Texas to undertake this ambitious spay/neuter effort to increase public safety, a key area of focus for W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation at Communities Foundation of Texas.”

The Rees-Jones Foundation and The Dallas Foundation grants will be used to fund community outreach, education, mobile clinics and free surgeries provided by the SPCA of Texas, Spay Neuter Network and Operation Kindness.

“The Rees-Jones Foundation is proud to fund this ambitious spay/neuter initiative to address a problem that must be resolved before our friends in southern Dallas can enjoy safe, healthy and secure neighborhoods,” said Jan Rees-Jones, Co-Founder of The Rees-Jones Foundation.  “Until the residents of our city can walk in their own neighborhoods without fear of attack from aggressive animals, quality of life is compromised in unacceptable ways.  This project addresses that concern.  We also care very much about the humane treatment of these animals.  When we saw that the City of Dallas had stepped up to address the loose dog issue by increasing funding to DAS, implementing a strategy designed to improve both public safety and animal welfare, we saw an opportunity for the private funding community to come together in solving this issue. We are grateful to be part of this important partnership that will improve the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people and animals in the coming years.”

Mary Jalonick, President and CEO of The Dallas Foundation said, “Based on the Foundation’s long history with funding programs that support the welfare of companion animals, we think this dramatic increase in spay/neuter surgeries is a bold step forward and will improve the safety and well-being of the children, families and animals that call southern Dallas home. The Dallas Foundation is proud to join our colleagues in supporting this initiative.”

The surge is an outgrowth of many years of efforts to tackle the spay/neuter issue in Dallas, alleviating conditions that are harmful for families or ones that place children at risk.  In addition to the funders involved in today’s announcement, past partners have included other members of the Companion Animal Funders Coalition, including The Meadows Foundation, George and Fay Young Foundation, and The Summerlee Foundation, as well as PetSmart Charities.  While these organizations have not yet made a formal commitment to the surge, several have been heavily involved in its planning. 

Mayor Rawlings said the spay/neuter initiative has widespread support from animal advocacy groups, home owners, the Dallas Police Department and the City of Dallas.

“The one thing that everyone seems to agree on is that spay/neuter is the key to solving our loose dog problem for the long term. Success will require everyone in the community to participate. We look forward to working with community leaders to spread the word about this opportunity.  With private support and the ongoing backing of the public, the spay/neuter initiative will help make southern Dallas a safer, stronger community for everyone.”