Popular stray dog snared by BARC

Bob, the stray dog that has roamed neighborhood streets for at least six years, was recently captured by animal control and is being transferred to an animal rescue group. (Contributed photo)

Bob sightings became popular social media fodder during the last several years in the Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas, where residents would snap photos and share their encounters with a skittish stray dog who liked to roam neighborhood streets and lounge on front lawns.

The black Labrador mix with a lopped-off tail, who had been coming around since at least 2015 but mostly avoided contact with humans, likely has made his last appearance in the community.

Bob, as he has long been known, was sedated with tranquilizer darts and picked up by BARC, the City of Houston’s animal shelter and adoption center, on the morning of April 23. Jarrad Mears, an animal enforcement division manager with the city, said in an email Tuesday that Bob and another dog were impounded at the request of a citizen.

Bob will not be euthanized, according to Mears, who said BARC was in the process of transferring him to an animal rescue group that will attempt to rehabilitate him and find him a home. Oak Forest resident Melinda Gleghorn, a local animal advocate who has helped facilitate that arrangement, said Bob and his companion Rowdy – a gray pit bull that also was picked up – will temporarily be under the care of Cypress Lucky Mutt Rescue with the plan to subsequently be adopted.

“You could always tell he wanted to be with us, but just couldn’t quite trust us,” Gleghorn said. “But being in the presence of Bob is such a special thing. He has such a special spirit about him.”

There was an immediate outpouring of support for Bob when Gleghorn shared the news of his capture in a local Facebook group last weekend, with residents pledging to donate money to cover the costs to have Bob trained and prepared for adoption. She said about $1,000 was pledged in a matter of about 20 minutes, and as of Tuesday, more than 60 residents had pledged a total of about $5,000.

Those who wish to donate can do so online at cypressluckymuttrescue.org.

Not every local resident is a fan of Bob’s, and some are likely glad he has been removed from the area. He had become a point of contention during the last two years, with some describing Bob as a danger to the community.

A Garden Oaks resident wrote on Facebook in April 2019 that Bob had shown aggression toward her children while they were playing in their front yard. Some Shepherd Park Plaza residents wrote on Facebook earlier this year that Bob and a brown dog were chasing neighborhood residents while they jogged.

Mears said a request to pick up Bob and Rowdy, who had mostly been staying at a scrapyard north of Pinemont Drive, was first made in February and again in early March. He said animal control officers visited the area 13 times before finally locating and impounding the dogs, with Bob being sedated by two tranquilizer darts (a third missed).

‘Matter of time’

Gleghorn said she and other local animal advocates who have looked after Bob over the years “knew it was a matter of time before they got him.” Bob and Rowdy had been confined to the scrapyard for a period of time, beginning last year, but Gleghorn said they started getting out of the yard and the fence on the property was not fixed by the owner.

“Unfortunately, they were scared that something was going to happen,” Gleghorn of the residents who wanted Bob to be removed from the neighborhood. “If people are scared of a dog, they’re scared of a dog. Part of us can say, ‘Don’t worry, he’s not going to bite you,’ but that’s not fair. We understand that.”

Gleghorn said she was worried Bob would be put down upon being caught by animal control, because his aversion to humans has been so pronounced and seemingly ingrained. Mears said Bob was first impounded by BARC in 2012, and subsequently adopted, but the organization was later told by the owner that Bob ran away a few weeks after the adoption, and the owner declined to take him back.

After being picked up last week, though, Gleghorn said the folks at BARC were able to put a leash on Bob and coax him to move toward them, even though he was visibly frightened. So she is encouraged Bob can be rehabilitated to the point he can be adopted, or at least placed at an animal sanctuary where he can spend his senior years.

Mears said Bob is estimated to be 9 years old and weighs a little less than 50 pounds. 

“There’s going to be a solution one way or the other. He’s not going to be put down,” Gleghorn said. “Based on what I’ve seen the last few days at BARC, I’m cautiously optimistic for his outcome.”

Along those lines, even though his recent capture has been harrowing for Gleghorn and other supporters of Bob, she said it’s “the best thing that ever could have happened for all involved.” Because instead of roaming the streets, where he could be bothering residents or risk being harmed himself, he is now in a safe, secure place.

He just will no longer be in the Garden Oaks and Oak Forest areas, where many residents became enamored with him over the years. Gleghorn said Bob’s allure might have been a product of his elusiveness. She and other animal rescuers tried to trap him several times or get close enough to pet him, but to no avail.

“We’ve talked about that, what has made Bob touch so many people,” Gleghorn said. “I think it’s his independent spirit, but also his perseverance and being able to adapt to what we might not think is the ideal situation for him, but makes him happy in his own way with the people he chooses and the places he chooses to be. It’s that story of that dog that never gave up and did his own thing.

“There will never be another Bob,” she added.

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