ONE PAIR OF UNALTERED
DOGS CAN PRODUCE 67,000
OFFSPRING IN SIX YEARS.
TWO UNALTERED CATS
CAN PRODUCE 420,000
KITTENS IN JUST SEVEN YEARS.
6.5 MILLION COMPANION ANIMALS
ENTER U.S. SHELTERS NATIONWIDE EACH YEAR.
1.5 MILLION OF THOSE ARE EUTHANIZED.
Just seven years ago, the shelter's only spay/neuter program was in the form of vouchers. Adopters were responsible for making an appointment to have their new pet sterilized. Compliance was low, despite requirements by state law -- and the shelter didn't have the personnel or resources to adequately enforce the law. Staff worked tirelessly to adopt out dogs and cats, only to have their litters come back to the shelter tenfold. Euthanasia was a frequent reality, due to lack of resources and space.
In 2013, the Friends came alongside the shelter to launch a pre-adoption spay/neuter program. Three local veterinarians substantially discounted their surgical services, and the Friends subsidized over half the cost of each surgery. Spay/neuter compliance was immediately 100% and has remained so for all six years of the program. While this is an accomplishment to be sure, there are still flaws. Animals have to be transported across the Tri-Cities daily, with dogs and cats in the same vehicle. Lag time exists between adoption and animals going home, as clinic capacity cannot keep up with intake and adoptions. The program is also in jeopardy as our partners near retirement, and no other viable partners have been found. With no veterinarian on-site, staff must also exercise their best judgement to identify disease and evaluate injuries. The shelter only has enough resources to outsource the most complex cases. While outcomes have certainly improved, preventable euthanasia is still a reality.
We know the key to sustaining our life-saving programs is an on-site surgery suite and medical center, dedicated to caring for shelter animals. Without transportation needs and capacity issues, animals will spend less time in the shelter, with lower stress and potential exposure to illness. A shelter veterinarian will be available to diagnose illness and injuries, and prescribe and perform treatment as needed. Isolation rooms will protect the health of the general shelter population, while shortening recovery time for sick animals. Feral cat and foster programs will have room to expand. And with better utilization of staff and volunteer time, these hard-working individuals will be able to focus on owner retention, adoption, reuniting lost pets with their families, and other positive outcomes. Adopters will still establish a life-long relationship with the veterinarian of their choice. The shelter's veterinarian will simply bridge the gap between an animal's time in the shelter and when they are finally home.
SUSTAINABLE. TRANSFORMATIVE. LIFE-SAVING
SPAYING & NEUTERING SAVES LIVES
Tri-City Animal Shelter is a municipal shelter, funded by taxpayers. This also means it is an "open-intake" shelter. Unlike most non-profit shelters and rescues, open-intake shelters cannot turn away animals from their community for any reason. Sick, injured, aggressive, pregnant, bottle fed, senior -- Tri-City accepts them all. Unfortunately, open-intake shelters are frequently referred to as "kill shelters." This is because the general public does not understand that "no-kill shelters" don't have to euthanize animals because they simply decline to accept animals into their programs that are not adoptable or require more resources than are available.
You'll notice that, unlike many other shelters, there are never "code red" pleas or deadlines for any animal at Tri-City. This is because Tri-City will continue to pursue adoption or placement as long as an animal is healthy and tolerating the shelter environment, or a trusted partner is able to take the animal into their program.
We have a wonderful shelter serving Cedar Hill, Duncanville, and DeSoto, but between overpopulation and a finite amount of resources, euthanasia is a reality. This is NOT a shelter problem. This is a community problem!
Spaying and neutering animals is the only effective solution to pet overpopulation and quelling the stream of animals flooding into shelters every day all across the country. It's also the only way to manage feral cat colonies, which reproduce and grow very quickly.
A public survey from 2007, conducted during the design phase for the current shelter facility, included requests from the community for a shelter veterinarian. Tri-City Animal Shelter is one of just a handful of metro area shelters that still does not have a surgery suite on its campus. We know that in order to commit long-term to these critical programs, we must upgrade the shelter facility and bring these services in-house.
SICK AND INJURED SHELTER ANIMALS
Aside from animals that are not safe to return to the community (e.g. aggression), illness/injury is the second leading reason for euthanasia in our community's shelter. The most frequent medical needs Tri-City sees include: upper respiratory infections, eye problems, dental issues, internal and external parasites, gastrointestinal issues, broken bones, lacerations, and embedded collars. The shelter's ability to treat these issues boils down to resources. If the shelter transported every animal in need of veterinary care to a local clinic, that is all they would do, all day long. It's an impossible task.