Special Report: Dog City U.S.A. - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

Special Report: Dog City U.S.A.

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

It is a sad reality. Thousands of stray and abandoned animals live on our streets.

Just recently, some abandoned puppies were discovered in a dumpster near Buc Stadium, and that represents just a small part of the problem.

The two areas of town with the most stray animal calls are ZIP codes 78404 and 78416.

When Animal Control Officer James Ray hits the streets, he's not after criminals. He's after stray dogs; and their only crime is not having a home.

"It's something we've been dealing with," Ray said.

The fight to put a leash on the city's stray animal population is not an easy job for Animal Control officers, who get between 50-100 calls a day, half of which are for reports of dangerous dogs on the loose.

Residents on Mohawk Street are concerned about an aggressive pack of canines.

"I saw an old man the other day riding his bike," said Gloria Cuervo, a concerned resident. "There were 20 dogs after him."

"This neighborhood, everyone gets dogs, don't take care of them, don't get their shots," said Norma Cansino.

Armed with lassos and their bare hands, a team of Animal Control officers tried to round up the pack of dogs without getting bit. Caution is key, even when it comes to some of the smaller pups.

"You think they're cute and fluffy," an Animal Control officer said. "As you saw, that one is not cute and not fluffy. A little mean."

"These guys will turn into the stray dogs you see running around," said Jesse Carreon of Corpus Christi Animal Control.

Sweeps like the one on the city's west side are done every week. Surprisingly, Ray says many of the "street dogs" have owners.

"Just not caring, just let their dogs roam, run off like whatever," Ray said. "Dog isn't cute anymore. Just let them go."

If the owners are found, they are given a ticket. They can also face fines for their pets not having tags or updated shots.

"Some people will not take responsibility. Say they are not their dogs," Carreon said. "It's hard to catch some of the animals. That's why we do these sweeps."

In 2012, 163 citations were handed out for loose dogs. Animal Control expects that number to jump this year.

Just down the street was a prime example. A man walking his dogs was stopped and questioned. His dogs were not on a leash.

"We don't want him to be run over, and we don't want him to bite anyone," Animal Control Officer Erma  Ybarra said.

The man was cited, and will now have to go to court if he wants to keep his dogs.

"I gave him about 36 hours to take care of those," Ybarra said.  "Biggest thing, rabies control, and have them restrained."

The man was handed leashes for his dogs, and was allowed to leave; but for the strays that aren't so lucky, they are put into the backs of Animal Control vehicles, with a one-way ticket to the pound on Holly Road.

Once at Animal Control, the seized dogs are entered into a computer, and pictures are taken and uploaded to a Website called petharbor.com, a site for lost pets.

"See what they are doing right there," Carreon said. "Actually scanning for a microchip to reunite to it's owner."

The dogs are then taken back to a kennel, where they are housed for three days. If an owner does not step forward, the dog is either euthanized because of health concerns, or it is put up for adoption in hopes of finding it a good home.

"And hopefully get them out of here," Carreon said.

It's a never ending fight for Animal Control officers; one they say would be easier if dog owners would simply spay or neuter their pets.

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