Dogs, death, lessons ignored in Pleasant Grove – or not
September 29, 2016 § Leave a comment
My family owns an assisted living care business and here is a tale of my experience in Pleasant Grove last night.
“Where in Pleasant Grove are we going? Bruton Rd.? Are you strapped? Bruton Rd. is beyond foolish.” My brother laughed off the question and ensured me we were not going “deep in Pleasant Grove.” I usually carry but at the time I was only armed with a karambit.
Two weeks ago I visited Pleasant Grove and witnessed two kids, shirtless, run across the street after stealing something from someone, a crime scene with two cops cars, and two teen girls and a child leaving a gas station, cautious of stray dogs in the alley.
They stood and watched the alley, contemplating another route. “Is it still over there? Girl, I don’t know what we will do if that dog comes out.”
On the way to picking up patients in Pleasant Grove I witnessed the familiar scene of a pile of mattresses, wood and other debris in the first neighborhood next to the Family Dollar off St. Augustine and Brierwood. The shit messed up the aesthetics of this new housing development. But the passerby wasn’t deterred by that fact, apparently.
It was night. At night one should always be weary of walking around lots in Dallas, whether you are up to no good, checking out real estate (which I don’t do at night) or visiting a friend. I quickly snapped pictures of the mess and continued towards the patient’s home.
Leaving Pleasant Grove, I catch a flash in the dark. Another flash. The flash appears again, and I pull over. The flash was a glow from the pupils of a dog. He sat alone in the field, never moving and never reacting to my whistles and calls from the safety of the inside of my car. A man walked by smoking a cigarette, shifting his eyes back and forth, from the dog to my random vehicle in the street and back to the dog.
“Yeah, that forest is infested with stray dogs.” The patient was referring to a patch of trees and bushes in the lot next to Family Dollar.
Again, I stopped and took the best pictures I could. In my mind, I wanted the perfect shot: the dumping pile as the main subject, with the dog in the background. I also had the perfect meme in mind; at the top: “Pleasant Grove”, at the bottom “TX.” It could have been a shirt too. I ain’t picky. Whatever the shot, it was indicative or a caricature of what we know as the Greedy Grove.
He continued on about his fear of DART stops and named the one on MLK and Malcolm X nearby Fair Park. “It is already a dangerous area at night but those dogs, man, we [passengers] usually watch for each other as we wait for or get off the bus.” During this moment, I did what is the only proper thing to do when you want to learn more about a subject: shut up and listened.
He talked about “the lady”.
“The lady was killed in front of her own house by dogs. To travel the world, go on tours, only to be killed by dogs in your own neighborhood…”
He stopped mid-sentence, shook his head and closed his eyes, reminded of the frightening reality that he, too, could be mauled by dogs. An Army Ranger Veteran, he’d been a resident of Southern Dallas for over 25 years. Antoinette Brown was the lady, an Army veteran who was killed in July by a pack of dogs in South Dallas, Councilwoman Tiffini Young’s district, one of the new four black officials representing the city of Dallas. Young, reared in PG herself, also represents some northern parts of PG. 14 people make up city council plus the mayor.
For what it is worth, Young has been vocal about stray dogs from the jump but not much credit should be given to her, as I imagine that being the number one complaint from South Dallas/Fair Park residents; stray dogs is absolutely not an issue her office can sweep under a rug. No Southern Dallas resident is new to the stray dog problem. Councilman Ricky Callahan also new, represents most of Pleasant Grove and southeast Dallas and has advocated for the city to shoot the stray dogs – with darts and tranquilizers.
In response to Brown’s death and the backlash was the arrest of that dog’s owner and a 11 week long study of the dog problem in Dallas. Also, the City budget for 2017 contains an increase of $1.5 million for overnight staff at Dallas Animal Services and for spay/neuter services and microchipping. The DAS and police have collaborated to work under the umbrella of Public Safety, and are now holding owners criminally responsible when their pets cause bodily harm because they are not properly confined.
Last night I learned that while folks who live in the suburbs are concerned about Dallas because of crime and potholes, we have no clue about their real concern, specifically residents in Southern Dallas. *Many residents real concern are stray dogs, and this was proven with data by a City Hall poll ran months ago where residents listed what was most important to them. But it is not just dogs, right? Dogs are a public safety and quality of life issue. You literally endanger yourself when you leave the house in major parts of Southern and East Dallas.
I always say Southern Dallas is a third world country and some people refute this by pointing to Cedar Crest Golf Course or the hidden homes on the hills in the bushes on W Camp Wisdom, across from MS Express. Well, if you didn’t know, third world countries have golf courses and large homes on hills, too. If you can’t walk the sidewalks or wait for the bus, in peace and safety, are you really enjoying the city services? Do you really benefit from the Dallas boom?
It is easy to dismiss the problem, essentially the Negro Problem that is called Southern Dallas. And much can be said about the culture of the people there who allow trashy streets, dumping fields and packs of stray dogs on every other subdivision. Surely, such a culture doesn’t exist along Mountain Creek/Spur 303 or Bishop Arts district where residents don’t allow such nonsense, or Desoto where code compliance response is quick.
Sure they can file complaints on their neighbors but what if the city ignores them, as has been the case for 10 years? Sure you can say owners need to be more responsible but does that address the current issue? It is unfortunate a black woman had to be killed for the city to wake up – but often times sacrifice is the pre-requisite for progress. It is up to the city government and residents to decide if her death was in vain. Time will tell.
*Results can’t be located at the moment but if I recall correctly.