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Animal Control’s Timeliness In Contacting Owners Of Missing Pets Questioned

Animal Control in El Paso has been criticized in the past for a number of problems. One woman even lost her dog when it was euthanized by mistake.

For more than a year, Animal Control administrators have been working to improve services. But complaints are still being made about how the department handles some animals.

Animal Control administrators say owners need to be more responsible because there is only so much the department can do.

It took a couple of days, but Jessica Favela is happy she found her dog “Gorda.” She said it took Animal Control two days to call her. The experience left Favela frustrated.

“I wish it could have been a little bit sooner so I wouldn’t have to pay all those fees,” Favela said.

Eduardo De Castro, Public Health Deputy Director which oversees Animal Control, said people expect perfection from the department.

“No human institution is 100-percent accurate, although we try,” De Castro said.

He said with just 48 employees, Animal Control is understaffed.

So if a dog goes missing, the primary responsibility is on the owner to try and find the dog, De Castro said.

But De Castro said he also understands the department’s responsibility of making sure owners are contacted in a timely manner.

“If we make a mistake here, we’re done,”

De Castro said a dog tag is the first line of defense but it only helps if the information is updated. If it isn’t, it will take time to contact the owner.

“We have to call the veterinarian and start a detective process,” De Castro said.

And even though dogs are scanned several times, microchipping isn’t full proof.

“The micro-chipping technology is 95 percent accurate,” De Castro said.

With 22,000 animals a year, that means many are left unidentified, even with microchips.

In some cases, those dogs are euthanized – and the community is paying for it. It costs about $55 to kennel, feed – and if needed – euthanize an animal.

“We don’t want animals here. We don’t want 22,001,” De Castro said.

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