The Kerr County Commissioners Court wants out of the animal adoption business.
On Monday, the commissioners voted unanimously to end adoption services at the county-run shelter by the end of 2020. In turn, the county wants to work with a nonprofit that will help facilitate adoptions in the future.
The move comes in the wake of decisions made by the commissioners to close the county’s shelter on Saturdays and put in place stricter volunteer policies. Those decisions have angered many in the community, but commissioners said they are considering restoring Saturday hours after the uproar.
However, when it comes to adopting animals, commissioners made it clear that they want out of those services by citing insufficient financial resources and no legal mandate to provide those services. County commissioners have repeatedly said their first priority, mandated by the state of Texas, is to protect the public — specifically from rabies.
One of the first groups to step forward is a newly formed one called Kerrville Pets Alive and they appeared Monday to present their goals, which includes building a shelter for animals impounded by the county and provide adoption services.
Members of the group were planning to submit articles of incorporation on Monday. In the near future, the organization could have a trailer that could accommodate about 40 dogs and serve as a mobile animal adoption and education facility. No property has been chosen for a new Kerrville Pets Alive animal shelter, indicated Karen Guerriero, president of the organization.
Guerriero said Kerrville Pets Alive will fundraise for the various animal welfare organizations already in existence that operate locally. The nonprofit also will promote responsible pet ownership, which she and others have indicated is at the root of the county’s animal services problems.
“We have an inordinate amount of feral animals around here, and we don’t need that,” said Kerr County Commissioner Harley Belew during the meeting. “For the number of people we have in the county versus the amount of animals running around, it’s crazy.”
The county may soon take a tougher stance on the matter. An advisory committee recently recommended the mandatory spay/neutering of any impounded cat or dog. Comanche Trace resident Shelly Sandy gave public comment at Monday’s meeting, advising mandatory spay/neuter upon second impoundment.
“If they pose a continuing stray problem, I think the county has some right to mandate that,” Sandy said.
Kerrville Pets Alive proposed commissioners re-open the county animal control facility for adoption services on Saturdays, for a limited number of hours, using one county employee on a rolling basis and volunteers provided by Kerrville Pets Alive. The nonprofit proposed to enter into a private-public partnership with the county to define roles and responsibilities and engage in fundraising and go after grants to help fund its operations.
Commissioners haven’t formally chosen to work with Kerrville Pets Alive, but on Monday adopted a wait-and-see approach as the nonprofit gets off the ground.
Like previous, recent meetings where animal services were being discussed, members of the public showed considerable interest; every seat was full Monday morning in the first-floor courtroom.
Commissioners were under fire in recent weeks for changing the hours of operation at the county animal control facility, extending hours on some weekdays and closing (except for advance arrangements) the shelter down on weekends. Some of the county’s loudest critics seemed to perceive the change as one that was made suddenly and without public discussion. Commissioners voted for the change last month after discussing the matter in executive session, which is closed to the public.
Commissioners expect to hear a presentation by the animal services director next month on options for re-opening the county shelter on weekends.
On Tuesday, Commissioners Moser and Letz noted that the county could still be involved in pet adoptions at the same level in a year if nonprofit partners can't be found to take up the slack.