City Council Held A Workshop On The Proposed Bellaire Dog Pound

City Council held a workshop on Monday, November 21, 2022,  regarding the proposed new dog pound.  Find the meeting here.  Find the presentation for a new pound by Bellaire Chief of Police Lopez here

I encourage every Bellaire resident to view that meeting.  Let the Mayor and members of Council know what you think about the various plans and structures, and possible locations. 

The current shelter is located at 4300 Edith St and floodiing in that area has been a problem, thus the desire to move the facility to a new site.  Bellaire currently has an Animal Control officer, and BPD officers check on the shelter twice a day, including weekends. 

The first proposal is to install a modular kennel facility on property owned by the City, outside of the flood plain, at 1311 N. First Street for an estimated $225,000.

Another possibility for the new pound is to relocate it to property owned by Texas Pipe & Supply at 2328 W. Bellfort in Houston.  The owners of that property, the Rubenstein family, would essentially lease the site to the City for $1 a year and also contribute $200,000 towards construction or purchase of a new facility.  Cost to the City would be around $75,000.   

But volunteers from the Friends of the Bellaire Pound are concerned about being alone in that location. Chief of Police Lopez stated that those volunteers would be escorted to the W. Bellfort site by Bellaire police officers. The Rubenstein family is also working with BPD to construct a new outdoor shooting range at that location. 

One spot of good news is that the original placeholder in our City budget’s Capital Improvements for a new pound has dropped from $6 million FY2021 to $300K FY2023.

Please email comments, concerns, or questions to the Mayor and members of City Council via our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at tdutton@bellairetx.gov and request that your email be forwarded to the Mayor and Council.  


Here are my comments to the Mayor and Council:

Dear Mayor and Members of City Council,

I watched the workshop on a new dog pound and wondered how it has come to this. 

Of interest is the increasing number of stray dogs in Bellaire.  A few years ago the number was 3 to 4 dogs or less a month, 30 to 45 a year per the list furnished by BPD in 2021 (see the list below).  Now there seem over 80 per year. 

Does that include pets that residents have turned over to the volunteers?  Has Bellaire become a dumping ground for unwanted dogs?  Do we know how many of the strays picked up this year belong to Bellaire residents, and who reported them?

The Friends of the Bellaire Pound is a recently formed volunteer organization run by a small number of people.  The City’s reliance on unpaid volunteers to care for these animals is understandable, but what happens if members leave, if membership declines? Please review the MOU between the City and the Friends of the Bellaire Pound, especially for any liability in case of injury to non-City personnel.

Is there a link listing stray dogs on the City website, specific to the Bellaire pound?  That would be a simple effort – a photo of the animal, particulars such as date of pickup, dog tag or chip ID if any, contact information.  Overseen by our Animal Control officer, with ‘Please claim your stray or consider adopting’, or some clever message.

As to the pound itself, I feel any location in Bellaire is the best location. Wherever it’s located, please place a high priority on a safe location for the dogs, with plenty of shade.  A new facility could be built in the current location, elevated as needed and with ramps and runs leading down to the outside areas.  Or perhaps on the land on Edith where the current Public Works building is located?

The location on City land on First Street seems reasonable.  The City hasn’t made much use of the First Street property in the past hundred years, so let’s use it now if it’s the best location. The UV-T will never be the dreamscape imagined in earlier Comprehensive Plans, and there would be enough space for other City usage if needed.  

During their rounds BPD officers check on the pound at least twice a day, seven days a week.  Building a facility on rented land in Houston, situated in an industrial area several miles outside Bellaire, seems unnecessary. It’s not a secure location for the volunteers and it would be located close to a BPD outside shooting range.  If you haven’t heard what that type of range sounds like, check one out.

The Rubenstein family’s offer of the site off W. Bellfort and Hwy 288, plus their offer of a $200,000 donation, is certainly attractive. Chief Lopez and at least one Councilmember seemed to think that it’s a great idea. But the volunteers clearly do not feel comfortable going to the  W. Bellfort site alone.  I was dismayed by the responses of Chief Lopez and Officer Hefferin regarding the need for a police escort for the volunteers. Besides raising a red flag about that location, what would it say about Bellaire’s use of our police officers?  

What about Bellaire residents looking for their dog?  Many years ago I picked up our dog from the current pound, and I didn’t need a map to find it. According to Google that W. Bellfort site is over seven miles from my house, and located close to one of the busiest traffic interchanges in southwest Houston.

Do we really need a Houston site or donated funds in order to replace the current structure?  For that matter, do we need such an elaborate structure as shown in the presentation?  It appears to me that the current facility can be easily hosed down and sanitized.  Or why not build a similar facility, well above the flood plain, if relocation is deemed necessary?

How would the new facilities be serviced?  Are we talking cleaning crews for the shelters, the runs, and all the interior rooms?  Equipment maintenance?  Pest control? Central air and heat?  The Chief mentioned additional personnel, is that a reasonable solution, to just add more costs for the City?  

Thank you for the time and attention you spent on this issue, but honestly I feel this whole thing has been blown out of proportion. The compassion the volunteers have for these dogs is obvious, I’ve owned dogs and cats and have been an animal lover all my life. I’ve TNR’d at least a dozen neighborhood cats in the past few years, but everything has a limit and we can only do so much. 

As long as the animals have decent shelter I feel the decision on the type of structure and the location should be made based on common sense and what’s best for Bellaire residents and personnel, regardless of monetary considerations.  Keep it simple and easy to maintain.

Sincerely,

Jane McNeel

This was a response to my email of 8/31/2021: The number of dogs picked up this year are as follows:

2021 (Thru August 31st) – 35       Average 4 per month or 1 per week

2020 – 28       Average 2 per month or 1 every 2 weeks

2019 – 53       Average 4 per month or 1 per week

2018 – 41       Average 3 per month or <1 per week

2017 – 46       Average 4 per month or <1 per week

2016 – 28        Average 2 per month or 1 every 2 weeks

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