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No kill: Fix Hays County

Guest Column
Sunday, August 5, 2018

Do you care about the killing of cats and dogs at the San Marcos/Hays County regional animal shelter?

As a lifelong advocate for voiceless animals, a rescuer, shelter volunteer, foster and former executive director of the animal welfare organization PALS, I am strongly disappointed that the regional animal shelter continues to be little more than an antiquated warehouse disposal facility with inadequate hours, low pet reunification rates, very few fosters, obstacles to volunteers and no transparency. Of the 4,642 cats and dogs that entered the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter in 2017, 2,049 animals were killed – 1,353 cats and 696 dogs. While the shelter budget has steadily increased over the past several years, live outcome rates haven’t changed significantly.

I urge the cities of San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, Wimberley and Dripping Springs, along with Hays County officials, to take action to reform the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter, which is an open-intake shelter that serves the whole county. It’s a high-kill shelter – killing roughly 70 percent of the cats and 30 percent of the dogs that enter the shelter. Many of the cats killed by SMRAS are killed within the 72-hour hold period; often on the very day they enter the shelter.

We have to make the conscious decision we’re not going to kill shelter animals anymore. More than 2,000 communities, some of which are our Texas neighbors, are implementing common sense No Kill policies and procedures that have been proven to end the killing of homeless animals. If we decide killing them is not an option, we will determine ways to effect live outcomes for every shelter animal. It’s that plain. It’s that simple. Achieving this goal takes the entire community and with our skills and passions combined, we have the ability to save a lot of lives! Foster. Volunteer. Adopt. Donate. Spay/Neuter/Microchip.

I ask the City Council of San Marcos, Texas to make its commitment to end the killing of homeless animals by passing a resolution unequivocally stating that it is a goal and priority of the city to reduce the kill rate to less than 10 percent of all animals that enter the shelter by Jan. 1, 2019.

Some people argue that No Kill costs more, but there are many free and low-cost options to save more lives. Each day of foster care saves the shelter about $9/cat and $15/dog. Each animal not impounded saves approximately $215.

If SMRAS were to publicly commit to No-Kill, it would garner more support, volunteers, donations and grant funding than it has now.

What can the shelter do to turn things around?

  1. State publicly their commitment to reach a 90 percent live outcome rate through rigorous implementation of the No Kill Equation. The current SMRAS’s mission statement, website, and Animal Protection Webpage don’t mention this at all.
  2. Pledge to complete transparency beginning with posting pictures and locations of 100 percent of animals upon intake and retain all animals a minimum of 3-5 working days.
  3. Implement low cost and no cost spay/neuter programs for companion animals and community cats.  For every animal that is spayed or neutered, you can expect to save approximately $1,020 on future impounds. Spay/ neuter efforts are crucial in reducing shelter intake, they’re more humane than catch and kill methods, and a better use of taxpayer money.

Clearly, for the good of all animals in Hays County, a paradigm shift is needed. The shelter and animal control services in Hays County need to bring their methods of protecting animals in line with current best practices. Shelter management needs to implement No Kill strategies to save more lives, and as proven by shelters all around the country, the community will step up to help when there’s a firm commitment to life-saving as the goal.

Now is the time to take action on behalf of animals in our community. Please contact your city and county representatives today.  Let’s stop warehouse disposal style management of animals and implement proactive life-saving programs, increase education, have shelter animals exhibited at all community events and extend spay/neuter/microchip programs. Be their voice. Support No Kill. Ask that Hays County implement No Kill measures. It can be done. Let’s give our cats and dogs a better chance for a good life.  

Sharri Boyett Hays County Animal Advocates   http://haysanimaladvocates.org/