Letter To City Council Re Bellaire Dog Pound

February 7, 2023

Dear Mayor and Members of Bellaire City Council,

After the Council meeting on January 23, 2023, I drove by the location of the West University dog pound. It is situated with the City’s wastewater plant at 2801 Braeswood, literally on the north bank of Brays Bayou. More information on the West University Kennel can be found here: https://www.westutx.gov/318/City-Kennel

The location of that pound led me to wonder if the Bellaire pound could remain on Edith St. It’s a quiet area for the dogs and our residents. Yes, it’s in a flood zone, so why not elevate the pound site and add detention if required?  

Please, drive by the site of the new O’Reilly’s Auto Parts. Due to the current zoning in the UV-D the side of the building now faces Spruce St. The foundation facing the street is elevated far above the original lot.     

This is part of a response I received from Christian Somers when I inquired about the height: “Checking against the plans, it appears that the underground compensatory mitigation vault still equates to more capacity than fill, and staff and our consulting engineers continue to monitor the project and will do so throughout the course of the redevelopment. We’re also making an additional site visit this Friday”. The reason you see fill is they opted not to floodproof…”.

So elevating the pound should be possible. The carwash located south of the dog pound, on Beechnut, is at a much higher elevation. The pound could be elevated and remain in the same location across from Officer Lucy Park. Grade the site to drain to the ditch along the railroad tracks.

The current pound site is Lot 1/1A in Southdale. The yellow box in the photo encloses the pound (red dot) and a portion of the Public Works area. Why not work with an expanded site, similar to the red box? Add parking, plant some trees, and tie in to existing utilities. Elevate and update the current pound if possible, or erect a new structure on the site.

Then update, or build or buy a much smaller and less expensive structure with 6 or 8 kennels. The one now proposed (50′ wide, $156K base price) is full of unnecessary space and equipment. Why are there two rooms in addition to the kennels, how will they be furnished and used? How will the interior pens be cleaned? Why install a washer and dryer? Who will be cleaning and sanitizing all this, treating for fleas and other pests, etc.? How often? Basic needs might include electric, a sink, fans, a heater, and interior and exterior hose hookups.

For decades the City of Bellaire operated a dog pound and adoptions were not a consideration. Some Council members may be aware that owners of fighting dogs often use domestic cats and dogs as bait when training the dogs, and a primary breed in dog fighting is the American pit bull terrier. Our pound has housed a number of pit bulls, perhaps because many rental properties and HOAs do no allow them.  Animals may also be adopted and then sold to laboratories or for use as guard dogs. 

Bellaire might establish a 5-7 day stay in the pound before passing the animals on to a veterinarian. Sadly, there are thousands of unclaimed dogs in Houston every day. Many of those strays will be picked up but not adopted and must be humanely euthanized. That’s the sad reality of poor choices by pet owners and over-population of these animals. Reputable shelters exhibit caution with adoptions, and that’s why I do not believe Bellaire should be in the dog adoption business. Let’s encourage residents to adopt from and donate to local shelters that are staffed and are in the business of housing animals. 

If adoptions are allowed then please set a time limit on a stay, and no unclaimed dog in the Bellaire pound should be placed for adoption unless it has been or will be spayed or neutered, either at the new owner’s expense or the City’s expense. And why doesn’t the BPD post photos of the animals currently impounded on the City website?

There’s a lot more going on here than where to place a dog pound:

  • An MOU with the current volunteers gives them a say in how the City runs the pound and manages the dogs. Those volunteers use the prestige of Bellaire and the Bellaire Police Department to raise thousands of dollars of tax-exempt funds without providing any financial reports.
  • How did the City lose the ability to oversee a dog pound? What if other resident organizations, the Friends of the Bellaire Library or Patrons for Bellaire Parks, for instance, decide they want to run our library or our parks as they see fit?
  • Over $400,000 for the City-owned site on North First, or else choose a site at almost no expense located miles away on private land in Houston. Bellaire police to staff either location. It would be interesting to see the names of the contractors and their estimates for the First St site.
  • I drive the route around 610/288 frequently, that area suffers numerous traffic slowdowns. Regardless, even with that 11-minute drive twice a day Bellaire Police officers could easily spend an hour or more of work time out of the City. Then there’s feeding, maintenance, and extra trips. A Bellaire location would be part of their daily patrol as well as being more convenient for volunteers.
  • With an interior space more maintenance will be required. Who is responsible for cleaning and sanitizing duties? Disposing of trash? How often?
  • What happens if we have a vacancy for an Animal Control Officer? Or run out of volunteers?
  • First and foremost, there are the dogs, some of which are housed day and night in a small confined space for a month or longer, a stressful way for any animal to live.

Most Bellaire residents are animal lovers who prefer their dog pound close to home. If the West Bellfort site is chosen and for some reason it doesn’t work out we’ll be right back to square one. Ultimately this decision lies with the members of City Council. Please, focus on a location in Bellaire. Renovate, build, or buy an elevated structure. Pare the budget to $225,000 or less. That should cover the cost of a smaller building and the site work necessary to elevate it.

Thank you, 

Jane McNeel

Find the January 23, 2023, City Council meeting here
Find the Dog Pound Agenda Item from that meeting here

Find the November 21, 2022, Dog Pound Agenda Item, including proposed buildings and cost, here

And a link to an earlier post and letter to Council here

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.  

About Jane McNeel

Bellaire resident since 1956. Email: bellairebcc@gmail.com. Find more information on 'About This Site' in the main menu.
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