San Antonio Unites to Conquer Pet Overpopulation

Pulling from animal shelters and not breeders

Read the previous chapter: Trap-Neuter-Return comes out of the dark to change ordinance

Cat lounging on animal control officer's deskTNR made a significant impact on saving cats' lives in San Antonio, but ACS still needed more “out-of-the-box strategies to help both cats and dogs,” said ACS Director Kathy Davis. “We were still far from where we needed to be.”

Davis called animal shelters across the nation to find more lifesaving answers. She learned the most successful city shelters transferred pets to local private animal shelters and rescue groups.

“I realized, without partners there is no success,” said Kathy. “The rescue partners, foster partners, volunteers and even local pet stores that have said, ‘I am done pulling pets from breeders, I am now pulling pets from shelters’ — they are the ones making the difference.”

Almost immediately, San Antonio’s private shelters and rescue groups agreed with this new concept and transferred 6,000 cats and dogs from ACS into their own adoption programs. The City of San Antonio also invested taxpayer dollars to build an additional dog kennel for one shelter and a full adoption center for another, just to house pets transferred from ACS.

“These partnerships made an immediate impact on the lives we could save,” said Kathy.

San Antonio’s animal welfare groups led by example, but also called upon the community to participate in the “transfer” approach by fostering pets in their homes. More foster families meant more space on ACS’s adoption floor for additional homeless cats and dogs.

Happy puppies playingLinka Buckner-Smart, a San Antonio mother of 12-year-old triplets, responded to the community call. “I just woke up one morning and decided there had to be something better I could be doing for the greater good,” Linka said. “I knew we had a pet overpopulation problem in our city. I thought fostering was a way I could help.”

Linka reached out to San Antonio Pets Alive! (SAPA!), a private shelter that accepts cats and dogs only from ACS, not from the general public. Often, transferred pets are kittens and puppies who need bottle-feeding and time in foster care before they are ready for adoption. 

“Fostering is amazing and sad at the same time,” said Linka. “You get these puppies from the time they can’t even open their eyes and you care for them until they are running down the hall into their new adoptive parents’ arms. You can’t help but miss them when they’re gone.”

Partnerships with animal shelters, rescue groups and compassionate individuals like Linka began moving San Antonio in the right direction. 

“It’s amazing to see where we were just 5 years ago and to see the massive numbers of cats and dogs who are being saved in San Antonio as a result of community support,” said Kathy. 

Next: Expanding San Antonio’s adoption outreach

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