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City council members respond to dog attack in far east El Paso

El police officer discharged a weapon a pit bull showing aggressive behavior on Tierra Limon Dr. Jan. 29, 2023. (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)
El police officer discharged a weapon a pit bull showing aggressive behavior on Tierra Limon Dr. Jan. 29, 2023. (Credit: KFOX14/CBS4)
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CBS4 continues to press for answers regarding El Paso police and Animal Services' response time to a dog attack in far east El Paso.

The dog attack happened Sunday in a neighborhood on Tierra Limon Dr.

Police said that at least two people were bitten.

Police responded to the area almost an hour after getting the initial calls.

RECOMMENDED: Far east El Paso dog attack captured on video; victims upset with police response time

CBS4 took some of the same questions we have been asking police since Monday to city council members Tuesday.

Representatives Alexsandra Annello, Art Fierro, Isabel Salcido, and Cassandra Hernandez said they were aware of the incident.

“I saw the video of that man being attacked. I’m so sorry to him and to anyone in that neighborhood. I am sorry that the dog had to be put down," said Annello.

“We are now putting citizens of our community in dire risk," said Art Fierro.

"Yes, I am aware of the incident. It is important to note that the most recent attacks have not been of stray dogs. They have been owned dogs that get out of their homes," said Salcido. "It’s unsettling to hear that this happened in our community. It is a very serious issue that needs to be looked at closer to ensure the safety of all in our community."

Victims of the dog attack said that it was unacceptable that it took police and animal services almost an hour to respond to the area.

We asked the representatives what they thought about the response time.

”I can’t answer that," said Annello. “But I also don’t know what was happening that day via 9-1-1 calls."

“It’s unacceptable to put people’s lives at risk. I believe that’s what is going to happen next it’s going to be a serious life-threatening attack," said Fierro.

"The EPPD continues to work on faster response times. The new regional command center that is currently being built and will be completed later this year will improve response time in District 5," said Salcido.

The El Paso police department is also dealing with a lack of resources.

Back in August, they told us that they have 1,000 officers but would need 2,000 to be fully staffed.

This affects their response time.

We asked representatives what they can do to help.

“So we have put more money into the budget so we can make those to try to fill those vacancies”

"The City of El Paso has a strategic plan and in Goal 2: Set the Standard for A Safe & Secure City, the El Paso Police Department’s FY 2023 updated staffing plan consists of having lateral academies. I would suggest those who are interested in joining our police department to apply," said Salcido.

An El Paso Police Department spokesperson said they didn’t have any units available.

"When the police got here, we asked them how come it took so long. We were told it was shift change," said Timothy Shallenbugo, father of a 24-year-old man that was attacked by one of the dogs. “That’s not acceptable.”

When CBS4 asked police why they didn't have enough units available, they responded by saying "I'm not sure how to answer this question. What do you mean by PD not having enough units available? "

CBS4 also asked them how they prioritize calls. They said, "Life before property is the simplest way to explain it to you how we prioritize calls."

Rep. Hernandez shared the following statement:

It was disconcerting to hear of the incident; any time animal attacks are involved you have people and animals at risk of serious injury or worse. In this case, the dogs had owners. This emphasizes the need for dog owners, of any breed, to be vigilant and careful with their pets. The responsibility of this attack lies abundantly with the owners. The response time of police is a circumstance of our force doing its best to provide coverage to a growing city with limited officers. They City has made strides in recent years to increase the number of police officers through recruitment, added more yearly training academies, and offer sign-on incentives. – Representative Cassandra Hernandez

Meantime, both Fierro and Annello said they are working to provide more resources to animal services.

“I’m going to be putting it in the agenda to see what action plan we can get immediately," said Fierro. “Do you we need to move people from different departments to make sure that the citizens of El Paso are safe?"

Annello said she has been working to increase the wages in different departments including animal services.

She said it could help retain workers.

“I did put up an item 6 months ago that we are looking at today. I’m looking at the wages," said Annello.

RECOMMENDED: Dog attack victim speaks out; Animal Protective Services provides tips

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