Animal Services sees spike in reports this winter

The community is urged to call 311 and report pet owners who fail to provide proper shelter for their pets.

Following El Paso's first freeze last week, officials with Animal Services tell KFOX14 they saw a spike in neglect calls.

The welfare of animals in our community is important to many, which is evident with the amount of people who are now picking up the phone to call and report neglectful pet owners.

Ramon Herrera, a spokesman for El Paso Animal Services, said they've seen triple the amount calls this December.

Between Dec. 3-9 in 2017, there were 240 calls, versus 90 this same time last year.

The weather is playing a role in the sudden spike in calls, along with more outreach and education from the shelter, according to Herrera.

Once a report is made, animal control officers approach every call on a case-by-case basis.

But Herrera said it's important to know what to look for and how to make a report. Dogs should always have proper shelter, water and a clean yard. Pet owners must follow local ordinances and state statutes. During inclement weather, shelter is always a concern, and despite some breeds being more tolerant to colder temperatures, pet owners are encouraged to bring their pets inside.

As for shelters, they must meet the following requirements.

"An adequate shelter is one that has a floor, three sides and a roof (and) an enclosure that is structurally sound and in good repair that enables the animal to remain dry and clean. The shelter must be constructed and maintained so that it is impervious to moisture and can be readily sanitized, is constructed so as to protect the animal from injury and provides sufficient space to allow each animal to turn around fully, stand, sit and lie in a comfortable position," Herrera said.

If you see an animal that looks like it's suffering or being abused, don’t hesitate -- call 311 right away. You can make an anonymous report, but pictures, video and willingness to be a witness if necessary gives animal control officers and police a better opportunity to assess the situation and file citations or criminal charges against pet owners.

Herrera said when responding to these calls, officers will first try to work with pet owners and ask that they comply with the shelter standards; otherwise, they could face a costly citation, or worse.

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