HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Houston is estimated to have 1.2 million stray dogs.
When Fox 26 News reporter Angela Chen moved to Houston, she adopted one from a rescue group called BlueBelle’s Rescue.
She taken in a puppy, a brown mess of fur she later named Hilo, and she learned that his especially rotund tummy came from worms. He had been living on the streets in Houston, born from a stray.
Fox 26 News tagged along on one of Bluebelle's feeding routes to learn more about the group.
The non-profit feeds strays around town several times a week, and on this trip, we found hilo's mother. She still roams the streets but is allowed to sleep in this yard behind her.
Bluebelle's was born from passion, with the members helping in their spare time.
The vice-president of the rescue group is a senior at Rice University and the goalie on the soccer team. She spends every free moment trying to find strays a home.
“It's just something I can’t turn away from because if I’m not out there taking pictures, they don't have a chance,” said Kara Dugall, the vice-president of BlueBelle’s Rescue.
Her roommate is a medical student and also part of the cause. She said it's impossible not to bring the work home with her.
“When you go out there…you see these medical cases and these puppies or anything else that you know needs your help more than you need sleep,” Hannah Starke, a board member of Bluebelle's Rescue.
And the need for help is severe because the problem keeps getting worse.
“One of the biggest issues is none of the dogs are spayed and neutered, so dogs on our feeding route, we're feeding 5 or 6 pregnant dogs right now that are going to have 9-10 babies each and that's just adding to the problem,” said Dugall.
The group said people can be incredibly abusive, and they've seen people purposely try to hit stray dogs with their cars for fun.
It can be a brutal life...especially for one that we saw along one of the routes, living in an abandoned house. He seemed unwilling to stray too far, and then we found out why. The dog was living with another dead dog.
For many of these pups, this is the life. And for some people, there is always more work to be done.
“As much work as all the rescues around here do and how many dogs we try to save on a daily basis, there's a thousand more out there,” said Starke.