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East Dallas’ long history with loose livestock dates back to at least 1885

31 May 2017 7:57 AM | Deleted user

The Advocate - Emily Charrier - 30 May 2017

We here in East Dallas clearly have a passion for barnyard pets, based on the number of livestock that end up loose in our blocks. Every week, it seems, there’s a Nextdoor post about a wayward chicken sighting. At least once a year, we here at the Advocate find ourselves writing about a swine on the loose. Just last week, the Dallas Morning News chronicled the police effort to rescue a lost calf from the streets of Lochwood.

It turns out, this saga is something we’ve lived with for well over 100 years. While digging around in the archives, I found what may be the best piece of writing to come from the Dallas Morning News, simply titled “An East Dallas Grievance.” Published in 1885, five years before our neighborhood was annexed into the City of Dallas, the piece chronicles a dispute over loose livestock laws. At the time, “Old Dallas” did not allow animals to run free, while East Dallas had no such law preventing it. The result was the regular problem of East Dallas livestock wandering into Dallas city limits, at which point they became the property of the “old” city.

“If their swine root one inch across the boundary line it immediately becomes the old town’s pork,” the article states. “Their cows can not nip the grass, however tender and luxuriant, on the old town’s side one minute before a booted, spurred and uniformed police man is corralling her. It is then a dollar and a half fine the next morning, or no milk.”

The article ends, “There can never be a settlement of this vexation question till the old town repeals its stock laws, or East Dallas enacts a stock law.”

Today, pet owners can be fined as much as $215 for loose animals, although the city will not round them up and eat them as in days passed. But it’s somehow refreshing to see that loose livestock is a problem that’s plagued East Dallas for at least 132 years.

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