Dallas, TX – The City of Dallas and animal advocates are joining forces to end the euthanasia of adoptable pets. KERA's Shelley Kofler has more on the effort to make Dallas a no-kill community.
At the Dallas Animal Shelter most of the cleanly scrubbed kennels are filled with lost and abandoned pets.
Catherine Baxter, shelter employee: I think we usually do an intake of about of at least 100 animals a day.
Shelter employee Catherine Baxter checks on a cocker spaniel that has just arrived. He's resting on a soft blanketed bed but seems a little frightened as he looks out from behind the stainless steel bars.
Baxter: This one came in as a stray through our night drop boxes. We have eight drop boxes up front that are checked every hour on the hour. That way if someone finds a dog at night they still have a place to take it.
Baxter thinks there's a good chance this cocker will be adopted. He's healthy, friendly, and small enough to pick up.
But the odds for most of the shelter's cats and dogs aren't so good.
The Dallas Animal Shelter took in more than 34,000 animals in the year that ended October 2010. The vast majority - 72 percent - were euthanized.
Animal advocates are convinced they can change those appalling numbers by transforming Dallas into a no-kill community.
Rebecca Poling heads the no-kill task force.
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Poling: We need to make sure we are not euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals just because there is not enough room for them. What we're doing is looking at other communities across the country that have successfully implemented not necessarily no-kill plans though that's part of it but also individual plans which will increase the number of animals adopted, increase the number of animals going to rescue groups and private shelters, and reduce the number coming into shelters.
The no-kill task force has found a strong, knowledgeable ally in the new program manager for Dallas Animal Services. Jody Jones comes from Richmond, Virginia, a no-kill community which says it last euthanized a healthy, homeless animal in 2006.
Jones cautions achieving that in a much bigger city like Dallas will take time.
Jones: With the resources available the goal is to end the euthanasia of what's called healthy and treatable animals. Those are animals that with just a little TLC would otherwise be perfectly suitable for a home. So we focus our efforts on those guys at first. They take up the least amount of resources to place. Then you begin working a little more focused on those treatable animals. They may take some more medicine, they may take some behaviorists working with them.
Jones says the effort will only work if the entire community pitches in. The task force will need business support; private sponsors; financial assistance for owners who might give up their pets because of an emergency.
Dallas needs to better connect pet owners with low-cost spay-neutering services and encourage them to microchip and tag their pets so they can be returned home when lost. And Jones wants to work with landlords to develop a program that would encourage responsible pet ownership for apartment dwellers.
Jones: I certainly would like to see within five years definitely that we are not euthanizing healthy animals and have a large chunk taken out of the treatable animals being euthanized.
At the Dallas shelter four-year old Addison Thompson has found a little tabby she plans to take home.
Addison Thompson: I got a kitty. It's got spots and it's grey.
It will take a lot of little Addison's to make Dallas a no-kill community. The task force hopes to have a plan in place that will do that by the end of the year.
Submit Suggestions to the No-Kill Task Force: DallasCompanionAnimalProject.org