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      La Villa looking at fees to keep stray dogs under control

      A growing stray dog population is causing headaches in La Villa, as they grapple with the problem and how to pay for it.

      That was the reason why Noel Bernal, the city administrator, recommended the city commission establish licensing fees for pet owners in the city.

      "We're a small town with big city problems I would say that, and our budget is not that of a big city," he said.

      Bernal said in 2012 La Villa will likely spend close to $10,000 dollars in fees.

      They have an inter-local agreement with the County to pick up dogs off the street, and take them to the Palm Valley Animal Shelter in McAllen.

      "The problem is that we TMre not budgeted for animal control and we cannot have our own animal control department."

      The inter-local agreement has been in place since late 2011, but the costs from it, Bernal said, could be better spent elsewhere.

      "Ten thousand dollars can be used toward purchasing better equipment for the police department," she said.

      At a recent council meeting, the commissioners turned down an ordinance amendment that would have put in place licensing fees for pet owners.

      Bernal said it would encourage them to better track their pets, singling out the stray dogs.

      But residents like David Alaniz are wary of any fees.

      "They need to educate everybody here, including myself, what they TMre going to do before they want to implement fees on anybody, he said.

      He said the problem is not as big as before, but he recognizes it is there.

      Alaniz had other suggestions.

      "Go ahead and send one of the employees get educated, get licensed, he suggested. Maybe get a grant or have the city pay for an animal control person here, and maybe he can work two hats doing something here."

      As far as pet owners, Alaniz agreed that they must all take responsibility and do their part.

      That is the goal Bernal said the city also hopes to achieve.

      The City of La Villa was the first one in the county to enter into an inter-local agreement. Since then, Edcouch followed suit.