Monday, November 08, 2021

San Angelo's Animal Shelter: Seven Years of Changes

The City of San Angelo instituted many changes over the last eight years.  In 2015 City Council approved ordinances requiring pets to be spayed/neutered and micro-chipped.  The Animal Shelter Advisory Committee adopted a "No Kill" goal in July 2016.  Council contracted shelter adoptions to Concho Valley PAWS in January 2017.  It broadened PAWS contract to include veterinary services in 2018 but PAWS performed only 87 spay/neuter surgeries over three months before stopping.  In the last year the city added veterinary care for shelter animals back into PAWS contract.  

The Shelter adopted Pets Alive's data driven model for achieving its "No Kill" goal.  Pets Alive admits it shifts responsibility for housing unwanted animals from a shelter environment to citizens' homes. 

Neither the ASAC or City Council informed the public that thousands of owner surrendered animals would no longer be allowed.  Neither serious illness nor death of a pet owner are valid reasons for the shelter to accept an owner surrender.  

As these animals don't come into the shelter there is no data on refused animals.  What happened/happens to them?  When citizens complained about nuisance collections of cats to Council member Lucy Gonzales the public learned the city had dumped nearly 50 unaltered cats in San Angelo neighborhoods from October 2020 to February 2021.  

Stray dogs are on the next Council agenda after a citizen complained about dog packs hurting people in PaulAnn.  Local NBC News refused to show a video of stray dogs killing a pet cat on the family's front doorstep in their report on loose pets.  Recent accidents on Houston Harte Expressway were caused by a dog that had broken away from its tether.  

Shelter adoptions decreased since Concho Valley PAWS became the city's adoption coordinator as have fees paid by citizens for animal adoptions.  

However, the annual budget for the shelter went in the other direction.

The Animal Shelter received increased funding as it choked off intake via a series of changes.  Despite its growing budget the shelter could no longer afford for four months to spay/neuter community cats, a top four strategy under Pets Alive.  Releasing unaltered cats into city neighborhoods is dumping and a violation of the city's spay.neuter ordinance.  Pets Alive should have a problem with this practice.

Council gave the shelter tools to reduce the number of unwanted pets via mandatory spay/neuter ordinance and requirement for micro-chipping.  Those are the levers to reduce the number of unwanted or lost pets.  

Shutting off access to the shelter for owner surrenders kept many unwanted pets out of city hands.  The question is what happened to these pets?  Neither the shelter nor Pets Alive knows.  The picture must be discovered by interacting with citizens and other local rescue organizations.  

Update 11-15-21:  City staff will propose adding two additional animal control officer to serve the public.  Staffing grew from 12 in 2014 to 17 in 2019.  The latest budget indicates 16 staffers in Animal Services.

Update 11-16-21:  Two citizens spoke on the dog issue at this morning's City Council meeting.  A woman from PaulAnn shared her experience with Animal Services after two dogs killed their family cat and the act was captured on video.  She said Animal Services wouldn't help her unless a person witnessed the mauling.  A gentleman from Lake Nasworthy shared how a neighbor lets his dogs run loose and one attacked another neighbor's pet causing significant harm.  He and his neighbors have called Animal Services multiple times on this issue and it is yet to be addressed.

Update 12-5-21:  Animals 24-7 reported:
 "Shelters desperate to lower their euthanasia totals and increase their “live release” rates are making themselves increasingly inaccessible to people who for whatever reason want or need to surrender animals who may not be easily adopted out."

Update 12-10-12: The city closed the shelter for all but emergency services on November 4th due to staffing issues.  Adoption contractor Concho Valley PAWS put out a plea to the public for volunteers to help clean kennels.  Someone poisoned over 200 shelter dogs on or around November 13.  The case has been referred for criminal investigation.  

A New Mexico shelter experienced a rise in aggressive and anxious dogs due to lack of staffing, which meant the dogs got less time outside their cage.  

Update 12-14-21:  The City gave Adoption Fees to Concho Valley PAWS as of November 2020.  That's roughly $35,000.  Staff did not include the revenue loss in their financial impact to City Council.  

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