HOUSTON – BARC, Houston’s city animal shelter, saw a significant uptick in the number of animals euthanized from April to June of this year, over last year.
Over the same three-month period, fewer animals were taken into the city shelter.
Comparing those figures, using BARC’s data, which is made available to the public on its website, the percentage skyrocketed from a 4.9% euthanasia rate (versus animals taken in the same month) vs. a 14.4% euthanasia rate.
“The statistics speak volumes. You don’t need me to talk, you don’t need anyone else to talk,” Jennifer Braudway, a member of BARC Houston Task Force, said.
Braudway’s group is critical of many of BARC’s methods for animal care, including initial assessments that can deem certain animals unfit for adoption.
“There are many factors that go into capacity here... from low staffing levels, from the drop in adoptions, from the drop in fosters and rescues. You know, animals being brought in, there are fewer people taking them, and there are fewer spaces for them based on those staffing levels. It will have an impact on the live release rate,” Corey Stottlemyer, BARC’s Senior Outreach Manager, said.
BARC has several open positions, seven as of Monday, Sept. 26.
Stottlemyer points out that BARC uses a shelter capacity model that is commensurate with staff levels, so unfilled job positions equate to fewer kennels, which can equate to more euthanized pets.
BARC publishes “live release rates” and a flurry of other data on its website. The “live-release” rate, for animals that are either returned to owners, adopted, or sent to foster care, has slipped to 84% in August. For 2021, the average was 94%.
“I believe that the trend is gonna continue to be up as we have fewer Fosters, fewer adopters, as well as BARC does not do any advertising for the animals they intend to kill,” Braudway said.
Braudway is referring to BARC’s Code Red List.
Braudway and her group argue that animals can quickly end up on the list, which means, euthanasia is imminent, and BARC does not do an adequate job of circulating to the public the dogs and cats which are in this unfortunate position.
One surefire way to improve the outcomes for BARC’s cats and dogs is by fostering or adopting them.
After the Story Aired
A representative of the Mayor’s reached out with the following note:
I was dismayed to see your story on BARC left out a handful of pretty important facts that I know you were presented with prior to air.
While I’m certainly not the subject matter expert (and defer to Cory and the folks over there), your story does not mention the increase in the number of animals being brought in through enforcement teams—that’s animals that are often problems in people’s communities. These dogs are less likely to be eligible for adoption, and with even the foster partners having capacity issues, animals that are dangerous and posing health and safety issues for our staff and the other animals in the shelter are less likely to find a road to adoption.
I was also surprised you didn’t include any of the information about the Empty the Shelters program. I thought for sure that was a slam dunk as a tag for your story, and a direct call to action for the activists and other Houstonians who want to see these animals find homes. While you do include a couple links for more information in the web copy, the very cute “Start here. Then go here.” may read well, but it is not easy for people to understand in the context of the article. It fails to provide information that people with limited visibility or other disabilities need when navigating a web site.
While I recognize it’s a different ball of yarn, there is a bond election coming up that will include ~$45M dedicated to BARC for a new facility and expanded services. This bond proposal totals $478M, and does not require an increase in property taxes.
Let me (or Cory) know if you want to follow up on your story with something a bit more substantive.
Deputy Press Secretary/Public Information Officer
City of Houston Mayor’s Office of Communications