Quality of Life isn’t just about schools. It’s about pets, too.

This past week there has been a lot of talk in the media lately about corporate relocation, after Toyota chose to relocate in Plano rather than Dallas. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings blamed Dallas public schools. DISD countered that Dallas has some of the best schools in the country.  Either way, Dallas residents lost out on significant future tax revenue that could have provided much-needed City services, or even offset future property taxes.

But isn’t there more to the story?  Quality of life for employees is always high on the list of considerations when corporations look to relocate, but quality of life is more than just schools. Corporations looking at quality of life issues often look at homelessness as a significant contributing factor – not just homeless people, but homeless pets as well.  That’s why Dallas Animal Services is under the prevue of the City of Dallas’ own Quality of Life Committee – because animal issues go directly to quality of life our residents.

Dallas Animal Services takes in 25,000+ homeless pets every year.  Much improvement has occurred in the last few years, with live release rates rising significantly for the first time in the City’s history. But loose, owned and stray dogs are still the number one complaint in many parts of the city.  Private funders, both locally and nationally have begun to come to our rescue – with programs like the $5 million dollar commitment to the Big Fix for Big D, with Pets For Life, in technology and in program support. But where is the commitment from the City?  Hiring Jody Jones was a great beginning, but much more is needed. We need permanent solutions that raise our quality of life, once and for all.

Permanent solutions are not free, not quick, and not easy. Permanent solutions require resources, time, and most importantly – money. But DAS budget hasn’t changed significantly in over a decade.  Year after year, the basic budget remains the same.  Enhancements are requested. Most are denied.  City managers contend there is no money. Not a dime to be had anywhere.  The money budgeted today – for a department whose recent successes have been recognized for recent achievements by the City itself, that now saves more lives than ever before – struggles day in and day out with basically the same budget the department had in 2010 when Dallas became known across the country as the City that let the cat die in the shelter wall rather than spend the money to cut a hole to free it.

There has to be some way to right the wrong done by decades of fiscal mismanagement. There has to be a new beginning, a provision for rectifying the situation, a reallocation of some sort. Somewhere, somehow there has to be funding to do what needs to be done.

It does seem likely there was more that played into Toyota’s decision than just schools, and Dallas’ track record when it comes to homeless pets still leaves a lot of room for improvement .  We need to invest money now – in issues that affect our quality of life now, and in creating an attractive corporate environment for the future.  How many more Toyota’s do we miss out before we find a way to finance animal services properly and make Dallas more attractive to corporate America?

Agree or disagree? Leave us a note in the comments, or better yet, take action by letting your City Council representative know how you feel and what your budget priorities are.

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