A years-long dispute between a woman who runs a dog rescue out of her home and her increasingly annoyed neighbors has resulted in hundreds of phone calls to Animal Control, a felony robbery conviction, one dead dog and, we're guessing, some pretty awkward block parties.
|Photo by Anna Merlan|
"This has been going on for ages," Raanel Steel says, sitting in her South Dallas home on a recent afternoon. "It's just nonstop."
Steel has lived in here for 11 years. Her neighborhood is tucked off a major road, but it feels almost rural: the street is winding and narrow, bordered with thick trees. Most of the houses sit on gentle hills. On a recent weekday afternoon, Steel sits in her kitchen with a niece and a close friend. She's almost 60 and has short blond hair; she wears a worn plaid shirt, her black glasses perched on top of her head.
Outside, 16 dogs race around the two lots she owns side by side. In a nearly two-hour visit, they are mostly inaudible. From the street, at least during these cold months, you also can't smell them. But inside the house, even with the dozens of cinnamon candles Steel had burning, the scent of dogs is so strong it seems on the verge of becoming a solid, something you could trip over if you weren't careful.
Eight years ago, Steel started volunteering at the Humane Society and doing dog rescue. "People just dump dogs everywhere" in Dallas, she says. She began bringing animals home from the shelter that were due to be euthanized, or taking in injured or abandoned dogs from local vets or that friends and acquaintances found and brought to her. At times she's had up to 27 dogs on the two adjacent lots she owns.
Her next-door neighbors, a couple named Brent and Nancy Thompson, were less than thrilled about her new mission. "They just didn't like that at all," she says. More »