San Antonio - A City With A Progressive Idea To Curb the Killing of More Than 25,000 Pets on The Street Each Year
Day 8 & 11 – August 7 & 10 – San Antonio
Deanna Vollano, Producer
Our morning began with a visit to the San Antonio Humane Society. Their Director of Communication, Seamus Nelson, gave us a tour of their facility. It was clear to see immediately upon entering the complex that it is a clean, well-cared for facility, with a lot of great people working there. The shelter is a no-kill shelter and holds over 200 animals on a daily basis.
As quickly as animals are adopted, however, they are replaced by incoming owner surrenders or strays being brought in. During their stay, the animals are very well taken care of. For the dogs, their kennels have shared outdoor space with a grassy area so they can learn and/or be trained to use the grass as their rest room. There is also a trainer on staff to help teach dogs simple commands such as “sit.”
All of these things make them more adoptable. The cat house is open and airy; they put the older cats in the front by the entrance in hopes that adopters will give them a chance. The kennel facilities and grounds are kept impeccably clean and there is such an apparent pride in the facility by all who work here; it’s a pleasure to see!
SAHS has an education center as well. They are in the middle of summer camps for kids. We observed the 5 year olds camp and were fortunate to be there during a visit from Sea World. Handlers brought 3 animals for the children to learn about and even touch; an armadillo, a possum, and a wallaby. For 5 year olds they were quite engaged in the program and asked some very intelligent questions. This center is used for a lot of different types of education throughout the year. We were pleased to have Felicia Glenn a writer and consultant in San Antonio join us for the rest of our visit.
SAHS has a very large volunteer base and they provide much needed assistance throughout the year, to the tune of 15,000 man hours! Per Seamus, there is no way that the staff could make up that many hours of work. The volunteers are indispensable. That afternoon we witnessed some very dedicated volunteers shifting crates from one storage area to another in an effort to have things better organized. It was an extremely hot afternoon but the volunteers had a task to do and they did it. SAHS has over 1,000 volunteers that do things like this project, they help bathe and walk dogs, the make reminder phone calls for appointments, and even clean up the poop! It is obvious that SAHS has a wonderful base of volunteers that support them.
One of the most fun things I learned about at SAHS is their El Rey Fido contest culminating during the San Antonio Fiesta in April. I was drawn to the photos of the King and his court! This is a fundraising effort beginning in November and culminating with the coronation in April. The top fundraiser’s dog is King and the next top 4 fundraiser’s dogs become the court. Each is rewarded with a beautiful hand-crafted robe. $88,854.29 was raised in 2015; this is definitely fundraising fit for a king! I know my dog would love wear one of those gorgeous robes!
After lunch WA2S scouted about San Antonio to see what the stray dog issues were. We did find some dogs roaming the streets in neighborhoods. As always, it’s difficult to know whether these dogs are feral, owned but loose, or community dogs. We are very interested in learning more about the stray dog situation in San Antonio.
We proceeded to visit San Antonio Animal Care Services. Matt gave us an impromptu tour of their facility and again, we were very impressed. One thing I noticed was that while walking through the kennels, which were filled with dogs, the dogs didn’t go crazy and start barking when we went by. I truly believe that this is a sign of well-cared for dogs that are used to interacting with people.
We visited on free micro-chip day which was awesome to see. San Antonio combines micro-chipping with licensing of dogs which makes them pioneers in this field. What a wonderful way to take care of two things at once! There was a line of dogs and their owners waiting to take advantage of this opportunity. The staff handled everything with skill and kept the line moving. It was obvious that the workers at ACS truly cared about the work they do. In fact our guide Matt told us that he “loves” working here. We were impressed with the facilities, staff and programs at ACS.
Our time in San Antonio was split, so on Monday morning we enjoyed some time with Gavin Nichols of the San Antonio Area Foundation. We learned so much from him regarding programs and issues in the city. We were very impressed with the evolution Gavin has facilitated in regards to San Antonio’s dog issues. We hope to be back soon to help survey the city and create awareness films! Thank you San Antonio for a wonderful visit!