message from~TX-RPOA-$11 Million Spent last year, “No Kill” Failure?
So you’ll know where we’re coming from: It was RPOA that hounded San
Antonio Area Foundation in 2007 to pay the $8,000 fee to bring in Nathan
Winograd, the acclaimed founder of the No Kill Movement, for a fantastic
all-day seminar. The city had refused to do so and were only interested in
passing the most onerous animal ordinance in the country that year.
Winograd warned that the legislation would result in more animals killed at
Animal Care Services, not less, but city officials ignored him. The city
passed the “animal rights” ordinance and at the same time declared the city
would be “No Kill by 2012.”
Animal laws can have many unintended consequences, especially for low income
pet owners. The jury is still out on Austin and San Antonio No Kill
Programs in Texas. If animal control facilities don’t accept or pick up
stray animals, it’s easy to become “No Kill!” But is it humane for the
animals dumped and living on the streets? RPOA thinks not.
Our appreciation to Brian Chasnoff with San Antonio Express-News for his
informative article below:
(Available to subscribers only, comments allowed or you can e-mail Brian at
August 4, 2014
SAN ANTONIO – Animal Care Services is in the last month of vying with 49
other shelters in the nation for $100,000.
The local agency won the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge two years ago.
This year, it’s aiming again for the grand prize, trying to save the most
lives through the period of June 1 to Aug. 31.
Yet, at what cost?
As the national contest peaks, the health of cats and dogs emerging from the
city-owned shelter has dipped, according to a source close to the agency. As
a result, since April, the local Humane Society has had to “scale back” the
number of animals it accepts from ACS.
“ACS is struggling to provide well animals,” said the source, who asked not
to be identified. “Everything that (the Humane Society is) taking from ACS
is sick or injured to a degree that it takes weeks to adopt them out. …
The majority from ACS is injured or ill.”
The Humane Society is one of 130 rescue groups that partner with ACS.
It accepts up to 2,500 animals a year from the shelter. After a baseline of
500 animals, the city pays the no-kill nonprofit $50 per animal.
Last year, ACS did not compete in the Rachael Ray challenge, and the Humane
Society had accepted 2,460 animals from the shelter by Sept. 30.
By contrast, the Humane Society has taken fewer than 1,000 animals from ACS
so far this fiscal year, troubled by the number of sheltered creatures
stricken with diseases.
The source blamed the bad health of potential pets on “overcrowding.”
To release more creatures and win the contest, the city is cramming together
too many sick animals, to the point where it has stopped accepting strays
from the public, the source said.
Late Monday, ACS Director Kathy Davis refuted that the agency is crowding
animals, and asserted that the dogs and cats it shelters are “healthier”
this summer than in previous years.
Lisa Norwood, spokeswoman for ACS, acknowledged that the agency stopped
accepting “over-the-counter” strays at various points throughout the summer.
“We’ll stop accepting strays if it means we will not be able to humanely
house them,” Norwood said. “It has happened on occasion throughout the
summer, multiple times.”
ACS always accepts animals accused of biting, as well as sick or injured
creatures. And it never stops rounding up strays in the “field,” said
Bethany Heins, live release manager at ACS.
Every month, District 5 Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales joins ACS officers on
“community walks” to capture strays. The agency picked up 18 dogs on Friday,
she said. “We’ve been picking them up pretty aggressively,” Gonzales said.
At 2 p.m. on Monday, ACS was sheltering 516 animals in its kennels – dogs,
cats and one chicken.
When I mentioned concerns about illness and overcrowding, Heins said, “I
would disagree with that statement.” Norwood offered some nuance.
“It’s understandable when a shelter is trying to go no-kill, as you get
toward those higher (live release) numbers, you’ll start to see having to
place animals that were tougher to place in the past,” she said. “Your pool
of turn-key pets, if you will, is getting smaller and smaller. … It’s the
last percentage points, the last, final push that’s the hardest.”
ACS has aspired to no-kill status since 2006.
That would mean saving at least 90 percent of adoptable animals.
In 2011, city officials acknowledged it wouldn’t meet its 2012 no-kill goal.
That year, it was saving only 35 percent of adoptable creatures. Since
then, the city has killed much fewer animals.
Last year, it celebrated a live release rate of 83 percent, its highest to
that point. In January, the number rose even higher: A record 86 percent of
the animals put in the city’s care either were released to owners or found
A delicate balance, however, must be kept.
The city is notorious for its strays. Packs of dogs roam the streets,
particularly on the South and West sides.
Crowding facilities so much that the city must refuse strays from the public
might be a good way to release more animals and win contests.
The approach backfires, however, when too many animals fall ill, and
partners such as the Humane Society are forced to slow adoptions.