Save Rates for Harris Co, TX animal control; better than 2015, but not great

Houston, Harris County, Texas – I received the 2016 intake and outcome records for Harris County Animal Control (“HCAC”).   I calculated the Save Rates, and although they are better than 2015, they are still not great by any stretch of the imagination.

Here is a breakdown for 2016:

48.93% Total Kill Rate / 51.07% Total Save Rate

75.44% Kill Rate for Cats only

32.43% Kill Rate for Dogs only

19,544 Total Intakes (including 121 classified as “Other”)

 12,091 Dog Intakes

   7,332 Cat Intakes 

  3,485 Adoptions – 18% Total Adoption rate

  2,705 Dogs Adopted – 22% Adoption Rate for dogs

     778 Cats Adopted –  11% Adoption Rate for cats 

 9,562 Total animals were killed/lost/died in care

 3,921 Dogs killed or lost

 5,531 Cats killed or lost

1,309 Total Pets Returned to Owners – 9.36% Return to Owner Rate

1,234 Dogs & puppies Returned to Owners –  14.66% RTO Rate for Dogs only

     75 Cats and kittens Returned to Owners – 1.35% RTO Rate for Cats Only

If you would like to view the intake and outcome reports (gathered thru a Public Information Request), I have posted them on No Kill Houston’s website here.   


A dog killed by Harris County animal control

Here is a comparison of 2016’s numbers to 2015


So,  Intakes decreased and their Save Rate increased, which are both good, however, HCAC killed or lost a horrifying 75.44% of all cats!  

Cats lost out in every category compared to dogs.  Their adoption rates are far less; the numbers returned to their owners are shockingly low; and even though the number of cat Intakes decreased by 1,114, Harris Co AC still killed 5,531 cats.   

Clearly, there is a lot more that could be done to save the pets entering HCAC, especially for cats. 

One program that would be easy, and cost effective, to implement is a TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program for feral cats.   Pretty much every community, that I have ever studied, has a TNR program.  TNR is supported by every national humane organization as a humane and cost effective means of population control.  And yet shelter leadership in Harris County, which is the most populous county in Texas, and the 3rd most populated in the US, still has not implemented a TNR program. 

Shelter leadership at HCAC has remained in the dark ages of catch and kill sheltering for feral cats.   That is disgraceful, to say the least.

Another program that would increase adoptions dramatically, and also bring in revenue for HCAC, is an effective and comprehensive offsite adoption program.  Harris County spans an enormous 1,777 square miles.  It should be clear to anyone that their facility on Canino Road is not convenient for a huge number of Harris County residents.  In addition, some people will absolutely never, ever, go to a kill shelter.   That is why offsite adoption locations are critical to saving enough lives to end shelter killing. 

Yet, I searched the website for HCAC, looking for any offsite adoption locations and could find only one, for cats only, mentioned i.e. “PETCO River Oaks”.   While this is a great location, to my dismay, it appears that HCAC leadership has made it incredibly difficult for people to adopt a cat from this location. 

This is what is posted on their website: 

You need to fill out our adoption application and return the application to HCPH Veterinary Public Health either in person or by faxing to (281) 847-1911.  The application will be reviewed and then you will have 24 hours to come and pay the adoption fee, in person at our shelter during regular adoption hours.  The cats located at our adoption partner PETCO River Oaks are ready for adoption.  Adopters will be considered on a first come, first served basis.  Please note the name and animal identification number (AID) on the application.  It is important that you bring your application to our shelter during regular adoption hours as soon as possible. Once you have completed the application process and paid the adoption fee, you will be given paperwork to take to the PETCO River Oaks to pick up your new pet.”

It should be noted that, according to HCAC’s website, the “adoption hours” referenced above, are from 1:00 to 5:30 Monday – Friday, and 11:00 to 3:00 on Saturday and Sunday.  So, if a person found the cat that they wanted to adopt on a Sunday, most working people would not be able to drive to HCAC’s facility on Canino Rd within 24 hours… because they have jobs.  So HCAC’s target potential adopter i.e. people with jobs, will not be able to take advantage of these offsite adoptions in any great number.   

It doesn’t make sense to make people jump through multiple hoops, and drive across town in Houston traffic, to another location (a kill shelter), just to pay the adoption fee so that they can drive back across town again, to the first location to adopt.   This is ridiculous and defeats the whole purpose of “offsite adoptions”.  A lot of people are likely to just give up and go somewhere else that is less hassle, including breeders. 

Since HCAC KILLED 5,531 in 2016, the intelligent and compassionate thing to do to decrease shelter killing would be to make it as easy as humanly possible for people to adopt.   

One idea to increase adoptions would be for volunteers to either volunteer at that the PETCO location, and/or to take calls to immediately interview potential adopters.  In a county with 4.5 MILLION residents, it shouldn’t be hard to find enough volunteers to help with this.    This is so common sense to me.  So, why hasn’t shelter leadership seen this barrier to adoptions, and rectified it? 

Another issue is that, after some searching, I found mention of a Mobile Adoption event on “Harris County Animal Shelter’s” Facebook page.  But, I couldn’t find any mention of mobile adoption events anywhere on HCAC’s web site.  Why not?  

Marketing adoptable pets is a crucial part of saving lives.  It is a program that is so simple and, with a little work, pretty much free to implement, but I could not find any mention of a mobile adoption at all on their website. 

So, the bottom line is that the Save Rate at Harris County animal control has increased from 2015 to 2016, which is good. 

But many thousands of adoptable pets are still being killed while simple, cost effective, programs that would save their lives, are not being comprehensively implemented.  This is very bad.

As we have seen so many times before, this is a shelter leadership issue.

Please SPEAK OUT for shelter pets.  If we do not demand better from our shelters, the killing will never end.  No Kill Houston has made it very easy for you to contact your elected officials, who could increase the Save Rates.  

Click here to SPEAK OUT for shelter pets at Harris County Animal Control.


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Councilman Boykins paid $50k to have BARC kill 74+ dogs and cats

Houston, TX – Last year, I wrote about Councilman Boykins’ plan to pay $50,000 to BARC (Houston’s animal control) for BARC to work overtime doing “sweeps” in his District.  Of course, we knew this would mean more death to more pets at BARC. 

Last year, I blogged about this issue here and here  and Randy Wallace with Fox 26 News reported on it here

Many people called and wrote Boykins and asked him to consider non-lethal options instead, but he refused to listen.  

One of Boykins’ staffers wrote me claiming “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.”

But BARC killed 7,715 pets in 2015 alone, so  everyone knew that BARC leadership would not require that his employees work harder to get these additional pets adopted, and Boykins did not require that BARC use his $50,000 to save those lives.  Boykins just wanted the pets picked up.  He didn’t care what happened to them.

Anyone familiar with BARC knew that these sweeps would result in mass slaughter, and we were right.

The kennel cards of those pets picked during Boykins’ “$50,000 sweep” show that, of the 224 pets picked up , 74 pets were killed by BARC.  10 kennel cards do not list an outcome, so I would bet that those pets were killed as well.  If those animals had been adopted out or sent to rescue, there would like be notations about it.

The above equals a 33% to 37.5% KILL RATE.  And, of course, that does not include the pets, that were already at BARC, and who were killed to make room for the increased intakes.

The kennel cards for the animals picked up in Boykins’ $50,000 sweeps are posted here.  

The pictures of the dogs and cat that BARC killed are posted below.  These are pets that Boykins paid BARC to kill.   And BARC leadership was happy to oblige because they  did nothing differently to make sure that these pets made it out alive.

It breaks my heart to look into all the faces that Councilman Boykins paid BARC to kill.

Remember, your tax dollars were used to kill these pets, instead of being used to save them.  Demand better than this from your elected officials.  Demand that the mayor require BARC to comprehensively implement all of the programs of the No Kill model of sheltering.

Click here to watch Randy Wallace’s recent report on this issue. 

From No Kill Houston: “To the animal lovers who want to help us help shelter pets in Houston, we need you SPEAK OUT in mass.  We do not want to see a repeat of Councilman Boykins’ & BARC’s $50,000 killing spree before the Super Bowl. 

We have made it very easy for animal lovers to SPEAK OUT for shelter pets by contacting the mayor and city council.  We have programmed a link on our web page that will open a pre-addressed, pre-written email to all.  

Here is the link.   Please use it then SHARE.  Make this go VIRAL.

If people prefer to call, write a letter or fax the mayor and city council, we also have all contact information listed here:

Please also Follow our Facebook page and register for our e-newsletter here

We have big plans for this year but we need more animal lovers speaking out with us. Thank you.”

February – 27 pets killed by BARC.  5 with unknown or incomplete kennel cards, presumed killed.


March – 28 pets killed by BARC.  4 pets with unknown or incomplete kennel cards, presumed killed.









April – 19 pets killed by BARC.  1 with unknown or incomplete kennel cards, presumed killed.




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