Houston, Texas – I received December 2016’s intake and outcome records for BARC (Houston’s taxpayer funded animal control facility). I calculated the Save Rates, and although they are slightly better than 2015, 6,643 pets were killed by BARC in 2016.
That is an average of 553.5 pets killed every single month, or 18.2 pets killed by BARC EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR IN 2016.
That is nothing to be proud of, in my opinion.
Here is a breakdown for 2016:
BARC had a 23.24% Kill Rate / 76.76% Save Rate for all animals
BARC had a 22.56% Kill Rate / 77.44% Save Rate for dogs and cats only
6,643 Animals were killed or lost by BARC (including “Other” animals)
6,239 Dog and Cats were killed or lost by BARC
28,579 Total Intakes
8,865 Dog and Cat Adoptions – 32% Adoption rate
9,149 Dogs and Cats transferred to rescue groups and transporters being paid to ship pets to other states
945 Dogs & puppies Returned to Owners – 9.68% RTO rate for dogs & puppies
52 Cats & kittens Returned to Owners – 1.1% RTO rate for cats & kittens
6.88% Total Return to Owner Rate
Here is a side-by-side comparison of BARC’s 2015 and 2016 numbers.
BARC’s monthly intake and outcome reports (gathered thru a Public Information Request), are posted here.
From looking at the huge numbers of pets still being killed, it is pretty clear that shelter leadership could do many things that would increase the Save Rates, both immedately and in the long term.
The first thing, that would have an immediate impact, is a comprehensive offsite adoption program. This would not only save more lives, but it would also bring in additional revenue to BARC. Win-win.
Comprehensive is the key word that BARC leadership continues to ignore though. Houston stretches an enormous 623 square miles. It should be clear to anyone that BARC’s facility on Carr St. is not convenient to a large number of Houstonians i.e. potential adopters. In addition, some people will absolutely never, ever, go to a kill shelter. This is why comprehensive offsite adoption venues are critical to saving enough lives to end shelter killing. Nathan Winograd told BARC and City of Houston officials this back in 2009.
When Wingorad worked at the San Francisco SPCA, they had SEVEN offsite adoption venues, EVERY SINGLE DAY of the week, throughout the city. San Francisco is about 49 square miles.
After quite a bit of searching of BARC’s website, I finally found this calendar at the bottom of a page.
The calendar lists ONE offsite adoption venue only 3 days per week. And TWO offsite adoption venues, only 1 day per week…. in a city that spans 623 square miles. BARC should have ten times the number of offsite adoption venues that San Francisco had, but instead they have a tiny fraction of that amount.
And to make matters worse, 2 of the 4 days that show offsite adoptions are work days for most people i.e. potential adopters. Yet the hours BARC is available for adoptions is 11 to 4 or 11 to 5. This means that the vast majority of the target adopting public will be unable to utilize these adoptions because they will be working.
In addition, BARC’s Carr St. facility is open for adoptions when most of the target adopting public would be at work. The below is posted on their website.
Considering the traffic and the sheer size of Houston, most working people would never be able to adopt from BARC during the week.
This is NOT comprehensively implementing an offsite adoption program.
Likewise, most people with jobs, would be unlikely to be able to get to BARC to search for their lost pets before BARC closes. Since the stray hold period is only 3 days, a lost and loved, pet could be killed by BARC before the owner had the opportunity to get to BARC to search for their pet.
Making small changes would solve this issue. Simply altering the hours that BARC is open to the public for adoptions, and to search for lost pets, would save many lives and also save money. It would get more pets into loving homes, or back to their families, and it would save tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of dollars every year.
Something so simple, and free, could have a profound impact on lifesaving.
So, why isn’t it being implemented by BARC leadership?
Another program that could save thousands of lives, and hundreds of thousands of dollars is an effective and comprehensive Return to Owner program. BARC’s Return to Owner rate has hovered at about 7% for years. Yet, other Open Admission, No Kill shelters have RTO rates of 60% to 65%.
I calculated that if BARC comprehensively implemented the same Return to Owner program that other shelters implemented, it could free up 8,100 kennels per year for pets who are truly homeless.
It would also save over $900,000…. because it costs money to intake, process and then kill pets.
Nathan Winograd also told BARC/City of Houston that this program should be implemented back in 2009. This program would cost little to nothing to implement, yet BARC leadership has not bothered to comprehensively implement such a program. Again, I have to ask why not?
So, the bottom line is that the Save Rate at BARC, has increased slightly from 2015 to 2016. But more than SIX THOUSAND animals were still killed by BARC in 2016 while simple, cost effective and FREE programs, were not comprehensively implemented.
This is horrendous and inexcusable. And as usual, this is a shelter leadership issue.
But, this issue has a solution….. a pink slip.
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. They have programmed a link that will create a pre-written, pre-addressed email that you can send.
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