If there’s a clear message about the state of animal welfare in Kerr County, it is that we’re making progress. For many of us who value the lives of our pets, the idea of having to euthanize countless animals because of neglect or abuse runs counter to values that we want to foster in this community.
However, the good news is that Kerr County Animal Services continues to reduce the number of animals it must euthanize. The bad news: Kerr County Animal Services still has to euthanize animals.
Fortunately, in 2019, the shelters here have not had to put down animals due to a lack of space in the shelters. For decades, shelters have had to put down animals to avoid crowding. Across the country, we are still euthanizing 2.7 million animals per year, according to the American Humane Society.
This year, the Animal Service personnel had to euthanize more than 300 feral cats. That was a one-time issue, and if the trend continues, we could see the lowest number of animals euthanized here ever. That says a lot about how far we’ve come.
The hard work, though, is still in front of us, because the actual number of impoundments is on the rise this year. Unwanted animals are still being turned over to the county for care. That’s a heartbreaking reality.
Just think about these facts when it comes to animals:
• Chihuahuas and pit bull mixes are the most commonly impounded breeds of dogs
• Chihuahuas are easier to adopt out than pit mixes
• There are about five or 10 dogs that return to the shelter frequently enough due to running away that the shelter staff know them by name. They’re called “frequent flyers.”
• Failure to properly keep a dog on their property can result in citations for pet owners, since it violates state law. Combined with impoundment fees, owners of frequent flyers often stop coming to pick up their dogs.
• Implementing a surrender fee may not affect the number of surrendered pets. It might just result in more animals released into the streets.
Increasingly, the movement to no-kill shelters is moving forward through greater education about caring for animals, including getting them spayed and neutered. There are many in this community who believe we can get there, and we are definitely on the side of the animals.
Pets add a great quality to our daily lives, but they are also a responsibility, and we need ensure they are cared for. The progress we’ve made is admirable, but it’s clear that we still have a long way to go if we want to be a no-kill area, but we certainly can strive for that outcome.