In the last year and a half, Stephanie Timko and her group of fellow rescuers have found 91 animals, dumped along a stretch of road in southeast Dallas.
They’ve been mostly dogs — as well as some cats, goats, sheep, horses, and roosters — and mostly dead. They’re often shot, burned, strangled, starved, or stabbed. Some seem to have succumbed to disease. Some were likely alive when their owners left them, then died after being hit by cars.
Timko and the other rescuers document each one: they take photos, they collect evidence, they look for patterns, they ask law enforcement to get more involved.
“Rescue” is an ironic word for this work, going out weekly to look for bodies.
Only sometimes, the animals are still hanging on to life. Timko told us that she recalls a lucky dog who’d been left on this stretch Dowdy Ferry Road locked in a crate — he was near-bones, but made it, and “was adopted last year.”
Tragically, it’s not always animals they find. One of Timko’s associates, Jeremy Boss, uncovered the body of Marisol Espinosa, a 34-year-old mother, on one of the group’s weekly searches for dead dogs.
On Saturday the group put up a memorial to these lost lives: 91 flower pots containing 91 crosses, each bearing the date an animal was found, to line the road where these animals were discarded, and discovered.
“For us, we feel these animals need to be memorialized, need to be remembered,” said Timko.
Boss, who is making a documentary about Dallas’ dogs — a clip of it is below; it’s very graphic — created a memorial for Marisol Espinosa, as well.
Espinosa’s killer hasn’t yet been found. Boss wants to make sure she stays in people’s minds — as well as to drive home the point that people who hurt animals are also “likely to abuse humans.”
The city recently announced new initiatives for finding, and stopping, those responsible for this horror.
The Dallas Morning News praised these efforts — but said it’s not enough.
The city should, among other things, dedicate resources toward establishing an animal crimes unit, and a city-wide protocol for handling these cases.
“The situation is an outrage,” reads the editorial.
More than 100 people came out to Saturday’s memorial — Timko says she was pleased to see folks from all parts of the community.
Pastor Becky Porter led a prayer at the event.
According to the Dallas Morning News, she said:
Love is really the goal here. It seems like humans forget about love, but dogs love easily and stubbornly.
Love is getting dirty while searching for the lost and forgotten.
Love is standing up for animals who are being broken and dumped.
Love is what you’re doing today.
Timko is feeling “cautiously optimistic” that things may improve.
“We’re not going to give up the fight,” she said.
With more attention, the number of dead dogs found on this one stretch seems to be going down a bit — though the concern is that this doesn’t represent an actual decline in dumping; rather that the dogs and others are perhaps being dropped elsewhere in the city.
Indeed, after the gathering on Saturday, to unveil the 91 crosses for the animals, and the one for Marisol Espinosa, the team got another call. Someone, in a different part of town, had found another dead dog.
And the next morning, Boss found an emaciated dog just off Dowdy Ferry Road. The dog was skin and bones, and very sweet.
“One of the skinniest dogs I’ve rescued,” said Boss. “I’m hoping he holds on.”
This clip from Jeremy Boss’ documentary is very graphic and may be hard to watch:
Featured image via Dowdy Ferry Placing of the Crosses
Jeremy Boss has a GoFundMe to support his documentary about the Dowdy Ferry dogs. The living dogs are often cared for by the rescue group Dallas DogRRR, which also relies on donations.