Photo by Danny Fulgencio

A dog attack in Rosemary Monterrosa’s West Oak Cliff neighborhood inspired her to get involved with Dallas’ pet problem.

She and other family members had called 311 several times to report a neighbor’s unneutered shepherd mix that regularly escaped a fenced yard. The dog had threatened Monterrosa’s mom and frightened neighbors.

“Nothing was really done,” Monterrosa says.

Then one day in 2016, the aggressive dog got hold of her Chihuahua, Link. The little dog’s injuries were so severe that he had to be put down.

Monterrosa felt called after that to help solve the problem of aggressive dogs in Dallas.

She started out as a volunteer, block-walking for Dallas Animal Services and the SPCA. Now she’s an outreach coordinator for SPCA of Texas, focused on education in southern Dallas.

Part of her work is the Chains Unbroken program, which builds dog runs for homeowners who otherwise keep their dogs on chains. They inform dog owners that it’s illegal to do that, and they build runs that are at least 200 square feet per dog. The program, which is privately funded, also provides shade covering, water pails, flea treatments and anything else dogs might need to live outdoors. So far they’ve built about 35.

“I try really hard to go back at least once a month to every dog run that we build and see if they need anything,” she says. “That’s not really part of my job, but I get so attached to these dogs.”

Photo by Danny Fulgencio

One of the owners, an elderly man, had trouble bending over to pick up droppings, so Monterrosa bought him a pooper-scooper, a simple thing that could improve a dog’s life immensely.

The bulk of her work is education and outreach, letting people know about free spay and neuter services and mobile units that provide free pet vaccinations.

That’s how she found her dog, Ziggy.

It was Christmas Eve 2017, and she was going door-to-door for DAS in Pleasant Grove.

“We saw this little dog dragging his leg,” she says. “He looked horrible. He was really thin. He ran from us and hid under a trailer.”

The dog was taken to DAS, and it turned out that he had been shot several times. They found a bullet in his knee and metallic fragments throughout his body. Vets tried to save the leg but eventually amputated it.

Monterrosa had just lost her 17-year-old lab a month before, and she swore she’d never get another dog because the heartache was unbearable.

“I wasn’t planning on adopting him. I was still heartbroken,” she says. “But then when I went to the shelter to go visit him, he jumped right into my arms, and I said, ‘Crap. I have a dog now.’”

Ziggy also had to have surgery in both eyes for “cherry eye,” prolapse of the third eyelid. He went from about 9 pounds in the shelter to about 17 pounds today. And he gets along great with Monterrosa’s four cats. In fact, he loves cats and will try to play with any he sees. He likes bigger dogs but not “other little yappy dogs.” He’s wary of men and is “very treat motivated,” Monterrosa says.

“I cried the first time he sat on command,” she says. “It was a huge step for him.”

Photo by Danny Fulgencio