Sweeps = more killing of Houston pets

StrayDog2

Houston, TX – Last Monday I wrote about Houston city councilman Boykins’ plan to pay Houston’s pound $50,000 to do more “sweeps” i.e. round ups of stray dogs in District D.   Those people who are familiar with BARC, or kill “shelters” in general, are understandable very concerned to hear this news because we all know what this usually means.    It means the killing of additional pets by BARC.  

Randy Wallace with Fox 26 news reported on this issue, and what sweeps will mean for pets in Houston.  You can watch the report here.

I wrote to Councilman Boykins and asked him to consider non-lethal alternatives for dealing with this problem such has high volume, free, spay/neuter services for the effected areas.   S/N will make dogs less likely to roam (males won’t be chasing females) and it also reduces dogs’ propensity to bite.

I received an email from an un-named staffer in District D which stated:

Please be advised that the allocated funds will cover the costs to intake an animal, care for it at BARC for the average length of stay, market it and find a live release home for it. The cost is approximately $180 – $200/per animal for these services, thus allowing the animal control officers to pick-up and secure the adoption of approximately 250 – 270 dogs. Adoption is an integral part of this initiative and our office is not advocating, nor supporting any lethal solutions.”

My response to the staffer was:

“You may not be advocating for it, but that is exactly what will happen with this plan for increased sweeps.

As you may know, BARC is a kill shelter and the city mandated stray hold period is only 3 days before animals can be pulled by rescues, adopted or killed.

Since BARC does not have an adequate adoption program for a facility that takes in 20,000+ pets per year, BARC is perpetually full and they do kill animals every single day of the year; thousands of them every year.

Increasing intakes by ramping up sweeps absolutely will cause kill rates at BARC to increase, either to the dogs that are brought in during the sweeps or the dogs that will be killed to make room for the increased intakes.

This “catch and kill” method has been tried over and over and it has never worked. In 2009, Annise Parker advocated for increasing sweeps in the “Corridor of Cruelty”. This did nothing to save pets, nor did it decrease the strays there.

In 2010, after a report showed that Houston was #1 in bites to postal workers, and again BARC’s “solution” was to increase sweeps.  Since we are still talking about bites to postal workers now, it is obvious that this “solution” did not work either. (You can see both documents linked here: http://bit.ly/1KAixrM )

As I said below, there is a better solution that does not involve increasing the killing of pets at BARC which Councilmember Boykin’s plan will cause. How about trying a different approach vs. the knee jerk “solution” that has repeatedly failed?

How about using that $50,000 wisely to implement proven, long term, solutions that do not involve slaughtering hundreds of animals?”

I received no reply to my email.

But, it appears that Councilman Boykins is not interested in the spay/neuter release option, as he told Randy Wallace that “it will take too long”. 

So my next non-lethal suggestion is that he should, at the very least, use some of that money to create at least one offsite adoption facility so that the hundreds of dogs that will be picked up in these sweeps will actually have a chance of adoption;  and so that hundreds of additional dogs won’t be killed at BARC to make room for the flood of dogs from these sweeps.

TAKE ACTION

I am again urging animal lovers to contact Councilmember Boykins and BARC management and even Mayor Turner, and ask them to make non-lethal arrangements for the dogs that will be picked up during these sweeps.

Calls are best.  If you can call, I suggest stating the following (you will probably speak to a staffer and may be asked for your address):

“I would like to tell Councilman Boykins that I oppose his plans to pick up hundreds of homeless dogs in his District if he does not also make plans to insure that those dogs will actually be seen by the people who would adopt them.   This simply will not happen if the only option is BARC’s overcrowded facility that already kills dogs every single day. 

Please use some of that $50,000 to create offsite adoption opportunities so that these dogs will have a chance at adoption and so that your plan will not be a death sentence for these dogs and the hundreds of dogs already at BARC who will be killed to make room.

Public safety and saving the lives of homeless pets do not have to be mutually exclusive. They can work together hand in hand.”

If you can’t call, letters, faxes and emails are good too.

Below is a copy of my letter to Councilmember Boykins.  Feel free to copy and paste any part of it for your own letter. 

Councilman Dwight Boykins

900 Bagby, 1st Floor

Houston, TX 77002

Phone: 832.393.3001

Fax: 832.393.3201

districtd@houstontx.gov

Re:      Public safety and saving the lives of homeless pets do not have to be mutually exclusive. They can work together hand in hand. 

Councilmember Boykins, 

In connection with your plans to pay BARC $50,0000 to pick up hundreds of dogs in District D, one of your staffers stated that “Adoption is an integral part of this initiative and our office is not advocating, nor supporting any lethal solutions.” 

Your office may not be “advocating” for a lethal solution, but that is exactly what will happen with your plan for increased sweeps if you do not also have legitimate plans for increasing adoptions. 

As you know, BARC is a kill shelter and the city mandated stray hold period is only 3 days before animals can be pulled by rescues, adopted or killed. 

Since BARC does not have an adequate adoption program for a facility that takes in 20,000+ pets per year, BARC is perpetually full and they do kill animals every single day of the year; thousands of them every year. 

Increasing intakes, with additional sweeps, absolutely will cause more killing of dogs.  The dogs that are brought in during the sweeps will be killed and/or dogs that are already at BARC will be killed to make room for the increased intakes. 

Since you stated that you do not to want to use any of that $50,000 for free spay/neuter services for that area, you should use some of that money to create at least one offsite adoption facility.  This would help ensure that the hundreds of dogs that will be picked up in these sweeps will actually have a chance at adoption and so that hundreds of dogs will not be killed at BARC to make room for the flood of dogs from these sweeps.  

It does no good to pay BARC $180-$200 per animal to get them ready for adoption, if you do not also insure that they will actually be seen by the people who would adopt them.  This simply will not happen if the only option is BARC’s overcrowded facility. 

Public safety and saving the lives of homeless pets do not have to be mutually exclusive. They can work together hand in hand.

cc: 
Mayor Sylvester Turner
City of Houston
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX  77251
Phone: 832-393-1000
Fax: 832-393-1084
mayor@houstontx.gov
BARC Shelter Manager
Greg Damianoff
P.O. Box 1562
Houston, TX  77251
Phone: 713-837-9630
Fax:  713-837-0631
greg.damianoff@houstontx.gov
ARA Director (over BARC)
Tina Paez, Director
611 Walker, 13th Floor
Houston, TX  77002
Phone:  832-393-8501
tina.paez@houstontx.gov

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6 responses

  1. It is easier to just make a blanket statement like this councilman is doing than to educate and do the right thing. I quick fix has never been the answer.. It is difficult to make changes, as Brett you suggest..we have to keep advocating for these animals and not let politicians take the easy way out. If all animal lovers would come together instead of arguing amongst themselves, our voice would be loud and mighty.

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  2. I want all the killing of shelter animals to stop immediately. It is cruel and a horrible thing to do to an innocent dog or cat. I volunteer at a no kill shelter in Houston so I know such places do exist. These people who support picking up strays off the street and killing them after only 3 days should be fired. They have no compassion at all for innocent animals who don’t know any better.

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  3. Killing is not the solution as a matter of fact it is cruel. the solution is to work with people and share with them the responsibility of owning an animal. There are too many intelligent people there who should come together with a solution rather than killing.

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