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.


If you wish to receive an email notification each time I write a new blog post here, please click the blue Follow link at top right corner of your screen. (Note: The link may not be visible if you are reading this blog in an email.  If you cannot see the link in an email, click the title of the blog to be taken to my blog’s website.)

Friend me on Facebook and Pinterest.

Follow Houston Voters For Companion Animals, a political animal advocacy group, on Facebook and Twitter, and register to receive their newsletter.

Follow No Kill Houston on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to their email list.


You may leave a Comment

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s