A call for solutions to animal overpopulation in Smith County

Tyler (KYTX) -- Getting a grip on the number of homeless animals in Smith County took the spotlight at Tuesday's commissioners court meeting. As of September 30th, the Smith County Sheriff's Office will no longer be in charge of animal control.

About 50 people from the SPCA of East Texas showed up to the meeting in support of President Deborah Dobbs. When it comes to animal overpopulation, advocates say tensions are rising.

"This is an emotionally-charged issue and I think for a long time it's been at the bottom of priorities," Dobbs said.
Dobbs says calls coming into the SPCA have tripled since the end of February.  

"Because of the funding, the sheriff's department is no longer able to accept surrendered animals, they are only picking up strays," Dobbs said.
Owner-surrendered animals are left behind when an owner dies or a family can no longer afford the pet. That means more strays wandering onto people's property. 

"We're coming close to a boiling point with the county because the county is no longer accepting owner surrenders," Luci Davis, a volunteer with SPCA, said.

Davis points to a case at Lake Tyler where a blind dog was shot recently for this very thing. 

"What we're hoping is that the city and county in order to better serve citizens, save money and do what's right for animals in our community will partner," Davis said.

But the county's role is still up in the air.

"We're looking at all of our options. We want to improve sheltering abilities and facilities but we haven't made a determination on what direction we're going to go," Judge Joel Baker said.

He reminds the community that leash laws are in effect for Smith County residents if the pets live in a subdivision.

Dobbs is encouraging all owners to have their pets spayed and neutered and fenced in whenever possible.


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