BARC’s planned pet adoption facility will mean death to many animals in many ways

The city of Houston recently announced plans to build an “animal campus”, including a 30,000 square foot pet adoption facility, at Gragg Park (2999 S. Wayside).  But, building in this location will mean death to many animals in several ways.  First, a pet adoption facility in this spot will not increase adoptions significantly because of its remote, out of the way location.  As noted in no kill expert, Nathan Winograd’s assessment, one of the reasons for BARC’s high kill rate is because BARC is in an area far removed from retail, residential, recreation, and other prime sectors of the city.  It was built in an area of the city with no foot traffic, no retail traffic, far away from where people live, work, and play, ensuring it would be ‘out of sight, out of mind’.  The Wayside location is very much like BARC’s current Carr location* which kills 27,000 pets per year.  Building an adoption center at the Wayside location will be a death sentence for pets who would otherwise find homes if they were housed and shown in high traffic, highly visible locations all over the city.  

Second, this area is in a zip code where BARC picks up the most cats in the city and picks up the third highest number of dogs therefore residents of this area are not likely to adopt pets.  A pet adoption facility at this location will also make it easier for people in the area to dump animals.  Making it easy to surrender and hard to adopt will not result in lowering of the kill rate at BARC.

Third, this property is also entirely within flood plains**.  Covering the property with a 30,000 sq building and 2 parking lots will cause even more flooding in this area.  This will put the animals housed there at risk and it will also cause additional flooding to the residential neighborhood next door.

Fourth, citizens have seen Herons, which are a protected species, nesting in the area for years.  Although the city is within its legal rights to destroy the homes of these protected birds, it is not morally right or necessary to do so, especially when this construction is such a disaster for so many other reasons.

Animal advocates are against building in this remote location.  Residents of the area are also against building on this property, but they are being ignored, lied to or threatened. City council could fix this white elephant by voting to choose another location for the pet adoption center.

Listen to our radio interview regarding this issue here:

 * Photos of the area are available on our website. Here and here

 ** Flood plain maps are also available on our website here:



On February 3, 2010, a foster parent was at BARC and offered to foster a 7 year old, owner surrendered, heartworm negative Chihuahua mix.  The employees at the front desk told this foster parent that she could NOT foster this dog because the dog was not sick and was not young enough.  The foster brought up the fact that this was a Senior pet (and therefore less likely to be adopted in a shelter like BARC), but this did not matter.  According to the employees, this is a new policy that has just gone into effect.  The foster wanted to question further but was afraid of making someone at BARC mad and therefore subsequently be banned (volunteers have recently been banned ).

It has been confirmed with BARC management that the new policy states that only dogs under 5 months, and those with injuries and illness are available to foster.   BARC is killing 1,500-1,600 pets every month.  So, to say no to any person willing to take ANY animal, young or old, out of BARC into foster care is an absolute and utter absurdity!

The employee said that the policy was put in place “to get some controls in place around the policy.”   This statement doesn’t even make sense.  And are these so called “controls” really worth the lost lives of the hundreds of dogs entering BARC that do NOT fall under the above 2 categories?   In fact, I would submit that MOST of the dogs entering BARC do NOT fall under these 2 categories. 

This was a missed opportunity to get one more animal out of a HIGH KILLL shelter.  And this was an older animal that is less likely to get adopted.  So when shelters tell us that they “must” kill thousands of animals because there just “aren’t enough homes”, or that older animals “just don’t get adopted”, remember this story.  This is an example of what happens every single day in shelters and THIS is the reason that shelters, like BARC, still kill animals.

It’s time to stop blaming the community.  The community is stepping up, but BARC is turning them away.



The issues I previously wrote about reminded me of a news story that a friend sent to me recently.She sent me a couple newspaper articles regarding how Moscow’s stray dogs have learned to ride the subway in order to survive. The dogs ride the subway into the city each day to “work” and return each evening. They know which trains to catch and which stops will get them back to their original starting point.I’m attaching two links to this remarkable story: said that the dogs have evolved into 4 types:

One type is truly feral and can’t live with humans because it’s dangerous;

Another is truly domestic and can’t survive without humans;

Then there are two types in the middle that have learned how to co-exist with humans.

Her take home message? “Dogs have evolved….animal control hasn’t.

I think I’ll put this message on my business card, next to a picture of a dinosaur.

Fox 26 reported that “BARC Changes Paying Off Dividends”. But is it true?

On Feb 5, 2010, Fox 26 reported that “BARC Changes Paying Off Dividends”.  See report here:

First, I am happy that dogs are now getting out of their cages during the week.  This was the issue that got me started trying to help the animals at BARC in the first place after I found out that the dogs never got out of their kennels 24/7 unless a volunteer did it.  Not only was it cruel but the dogs were coming to adoption events COMPLETELY stir crazy and hard to adopt out.  I also do hope that this new procedure includes dogs in the North kennels not just the South kennels.

Second, I “think” that perhaps Fox misquoted Mr. Atencio and he probably meant there were 500 Outtakes (not just adoptions) in Jan 2009 vs. 900 Outtakes in Jan 2010.   However, I have a couple problems with this statement:

 1) We know that BARC’s records have historically been vastly incorrect. Mr. Fusco admitted that about 95% of Chameleon was wrong when he started.  He claims that it is largely up to date now, but I have doubts.  One reason I have doubts is that the HSPCA called a BARC foster parent regarding a cat that was at their shelter. The microchip was registered to the foster so the SPCA called her.  The foster parent still had BARC’s “A” number for the cat so she called to find out the new owner’s contact information.  However, BARC still had the cat registered to the foster parent.  This was a cat that had been adopted at No Kill Houston’s adoption event almost 3 months prior.  BARC cashed NKH’s checks which were attached to the adoption contracts, but didn’t bother to update Chameleon with the new owner’s information.  This is not isolated.  Foster parents know that a lot of their records are wrong.  

It should be noted that if this cat had not gone into foster care before being adopted, it would have been yet another pet that BARC claims it “has” to kill because they just can’t find enough homes.  But, this is a cat who was adopted,  has a home, and BARC even has the new owner’s name “somewhere” at their facility.  However, since BARC is unable to find the new owner’s name in their own computer system to return this pet to her owner, this would be another death and another excuse to kill that doesn’t fly.

2) BARC has not posted Intake and Outtake information on their website since Oct 2009 so who knows if these numbers are correct or what the break down really is?

3) From a “bar chart” that BARC produced by Fusco, it appeared that Outtakes had gone up by about 100-125 vs. the previous month.   Although I’m glad that Outtakes are going up, if in fact they are going up, this means BARC is STILL killing 1,500-1,600 animals EVERY MONTH.  Personally, I expected a MUCH larger increase in Outtakes from Mr. Fusco’s six month reign.  Wasn’t that supposed to be the main goal…. to stop the killing?

3) BARC has been less than transparent and still is. I’d have a lot more respect if they didn’t appear to be hiding records.  A friend has done several FOIA records requests to BARC/city of Houston and MANY are being appealed to the Attorney General. The city has appealed the request to produce records in connection with an adoption event in which BARC claimed to have adopted out the most animals in BARC’s history.  

If they really adopted out that many animals, why would they try to hide the records?    Why object to producing records that would validate your claims?    It’s very suspicious, and again less than transparent.

Fusco stated in an interview on August 3, 2009 that “everyone will know what we are doing”.   Considering the above, this just seems to be more of the same bureaucratic double speak that we’ve come to know at BARC. 

Do you feel like the $200,000+ of your tax money that the city spent on the Change Agent was worth it? 



In December 2009, Bill White, city council and BARC leaders announced a planned animal campus, including a pet adoption center, at Gragg Park (2999 Wayside). Although it is welcome news that the city is planning to increase adoption sites for BARC animals, this remote, out-of-the-way location is not a smart choice for a pet adoption center. Not only will it NOT increase adoptions, it most likely will cause animal Intakes to increase which would, of course, drive the kill rate up.

I also recently learned that this site is in a flood plain. This is an additional reason to oppose this location. The city should not contemplate potentially putting animal and human lives at risk by building an adoption facility in a flood zone.

I wrote a letter to the Mayor Parker and City Council opposing this location. Councilmember C.O. Bradford called me and said he agreed and also opposed this location for a pet adoption center.

I am asking that all citizens PLEASE SEND A LETTER, EMAIL or FAX to the mayor and city council and ask them to reconsider the location for the planned adoption facility on Wayside. This location is not a wise choice if we ever hope to increase adoptions in large enough numbers to stop the killing at BARC.

Please speak up now.  At least one councilmember is listening.

All contact information is on our website, along with pictures of the proposed location.

Click here for more information regarding the Wayside site




During Gerry Fusco’s 6 month tenure, he has banned at least 3 volunteers from BARC.

I posted the “Security Alerts” for 3 of the banned volunteers on our website.  These Security Alerts would make it appear that the banned citizens are terrorists posing some kind threat to security.  But, these are VOLUNTEERS.  These are people who have given up their precious free time, to selflessly go to BARC to try to help save animals.  Yet, they are treated like criminals and banned from the premises.  This is a complete and unnecessary waste of resources that BARC cannot afford to lose.  BARC generally does not have enough volunteers.  Many of those who used to volunteer, or might be talked into volunteering in the future, will not because of BARC’s new over-restrictive rules and badging requirements.  So, those citizens who do go out of their way and jump through hoops to volunteer are becoming exhausted and burned out. 

Is the “Change” that Fusco/Bill White promised?  Is this BARC’s path to stopping the killing?  It sounds remarkably similar to what we had before Fusco arrived.

Click here for more information on the “Security Alerts” and the sometimes non-existent reasons for banning volunteers.


A Channel 39 news report recently stated that Houston is number 1 in the nation regarding dog bites to postal workers. From this report, it appears that General Manager, David Atencio’s “solution” is more sweeps i.e. catch and kill. Considering this “solution” has been unsuccessfully employed by BARC for decades, I would suggest that this is not a practical solution.

See No Kill Houston’s open letter to Mr. Atencio suggesting non-lethal solutions to this issue