ECSO, OPD see nearly three-fold spike in animal control calls

In 2018, local law enforcement agencies responded to more than 45,000 animal control calls.

That total from the Ector County Sheriff’s Office and Odessa Police Department is nearly three times as the previous two years.

During 2017 and 2016, ECSO and OPD responded to a total of 17,848 and 17,120 animal control calls, respectively.

Odessa Police Department Chief Michael Gerke recently reminisced about his most memorable animal experience while on duty.

Gerke said the incident happened when he was a patrolman after he arrested a man for driving while intoxicated. Gerke continued to explain while he was impounding the man’s car, there was a fighting rooster in the back of the car, and he had to call animal control.

In 2018, within city limits, OPD had 41,475 animal control calls compared to a total of 170,263 calls. In the county, ESCO had 2,404 animal control calls compared to a total of 35,412 calls for the year.

OPD spokesperson Steve LeSueur detailed 15,365 and 14,891 animal control calls in 2017 and 2016, respectively. ECSO spokesperson Sgt. Gary Duesler said in an email that animal control calls numbers were 2,483 in 2017 and 2,229 in 2016.

Gerke said there are two common instances for an increase in animal control calls.

“We usually see a spike a few months after Christmas, because people get those puppies or kittens for Christmas and then figure out that they can’t care for it or don’t want to care for it and they dump them,” Gerke said. “When the economy goes down sometimes or when people get transferred, they are more apt leave those animals.”

A majority of the animal control calls, both agencies said, involve dogs.

“Dogs more than anything else,” Gerke said. “We get a lot of cats, but we get way more dogs than cats.”

Sheriff Mike Griffis said a majority of their animal calls are also for dogs, but they get reports of javelinas, wild pigs and coyotes, as well.

“We’ve got quite a few calls on javelinas and wild pigs in the past,” Griffis said. “Normally, we will put those animals down because they are a threat to the public. They can turn on you and bite you.”

According to city ordinance, residents can have a total of four dogs or cats.

However, in the county, Griffis said there’s no limit on number of animals. Griffis also said the dogs and cats that are captured by their animal control units are taken to Odessa Animal Control in city limits.

Griffis said one way to help limit the number of animal calls would be for owners to fix their dogs and cats. All pets adopted from OAC will be spayed or neutered per city ordinance unless the animal is too young at the time of adoption and a contract will be administered. Failure to meet contract obligations will result in a fine.

“It’s always going to be a problem, because people have so many dogs,” Griffis said. “They don’t take care of them. They don’t get them spayed or neutered. It’s always going to be a problem. What’s unfortunate about it, there’s not enough rescue people in the world that would take all the strays.”