How much is too much? A local woman is the center of attention in her neighborhood because of her excessiveness.
A quiet place in Dallas, Texas, is experiencing a one-of-a-kind problem in its community. The neighborhood troubles apparently started a decade ago when a woman started taking in and “rescuing” stray dogs.
The woman in question already had three dogs of her own back then. She started taking in strays soon after and her neighborhood didn’t think much of it at first. But as soon as the dogs started to run amok throughout the whole neighborhood, jumped fences, trespassed into their yards, and ran through the streets, the neighbors started to have trouble with her new hobby.
The neighbors decided to discuss the situation with the rescuer, Raanel Steel, over a bottle of wine. That didn’t seem to stop Steel. 6 years down the road, her three dogs became almost 30. This has become a serious issue with the whole neighborhood.
Nancy Thompson lives next to Steel, and she said that everything is just way out of hand.
“The Thompsons sleep with two fans and a white-noise machine to drown out the barking. There’s nothing they can do about the smell in the warm months, or the fleas and rats they say are everywhere. They say they’ve seen dogs killed fighting in Steel’s yard and have watched her try to hide new acquisitions by bringing them in under a sheet,” wrote the Dallas Observer.
On the other side of the story, Steel claims that she was just horrified by the dog problems in the neighborhood. “In Pleasant Grove, people just dump dogs everywhere,” she says. Apart from rescuing dogs, she also volunteers at the Humane Society, which takes in injured and abandoned dogs.
Steel knows of her neighbor’s general distaste towards what she has been doing. She says that multiple animal services officers have stopped by her house to check out reports of “deplorable stench,” fleas, piles of feces, and incessant barking. According to Steel, who keeps a record, the authorities have visited at least 160 times, and they have never found anything wrong on the property.
Josh Ehrenfeld, a Dallas animal cruelty officer who has visited Steel’s property, would later testify that the reports that they received were always unfounded. “The dogs were always well cared for,” Ehrenfeld said. The neighborhood continued to harass Steel regardless.
Thompson, however, denied that Steel is rescuing dogs and said that Steel doesn’t adopt the dogs out and that Steel just hoards them. She further stated that people have tried to adopt from Steel but were denied.
“Many [rescuers] are essentially hoarders. They are all well-intentioned — or start off that way. But they get in over their heads, get overwhelmed and lose touch with reality,” said one animal-welfare advocate.
Read more about the case of Steel and her neighbors in the Dallas Observer.