Houston, we have a problem—a stray dog problem.
So says the World Animal Awareness Society, which is literally launching a campaign to raise awareness about the city’s homeless dogs by employing drones to conduct an aerial survey of stray canines.
The organization, a nonprofit based in Michigan, plans to develop a television documentary series about the survey called “Operation Houston #StrayDogCity.” Work on the project is expected to span 10 years and cost $250,000, according to organizers.
While drones circle above the city to locate strays, volunteers will comb neighborhoods to count and record data. More than 1 million dogs and cats without homes roam the city, according to previous estimates cited by the organization.
“The WA2S spent 10 days at the end of last year becoming just a little bit more familiar with the vastness of the stray dog crisis in Houston and felt the deep concern by those working on the streets as we filmed their activities,” Tom McPhee, the organization’s executive director, wrote recently on the group’s website.
By raising awareness of the problem, organizers hope to encourage residents to make homes for these dogs and encourage people to donate to area animal welfare organizations.
Organizers say they hope to duplicate the success of a similar campaign they conducted in 2013 and 2014 in Detroit, where they reported that about 3,000 stray dogs roamed the city on any given day (various news stories had suggested that as many as 50,000 strays were on the streets). After completing the survey, the WA2S produced a series of lesson plans about dog ownership for use in city schools.
Houston is in a much better financial position than Detroit to address a stray dog problem, noted Gloria Zenteno of Barrio Dogs Inc., an animal welfare organization in Houston.
“Houston is a wealthy city with a strong economy,” she said in a news release. “There is absolutely no excuse for having an estimated one million plus homeless animals suffering on our streets.”