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Opportunities to increase adoptions - missed again

Oscar and Sandy, our booth mascots who are also up for adoption

As I reported in my last article, the the 33rd Annual Reliant Park World Series of Dog Shows was in Houston last weekend.  This is one of the largest dog shows in the US.  Over the 4 day span, the show attracted more than 40,000 spectators and participants. 

Rescue groups also knew that this dog show was the place to be and they brought many of their adoptable dogs to this event.  After all, there were 40,000 potential adopters all in one place.  In fact, I heard a family at the German Shepherd rescue booth next  to us say “We are ‘petless’ right now and want to bring a new family member home”. They, like many others, were actively looking for a new pet at the dog show and the rescue groups worked hard to "market" their adoptable dogs.   

The booth for Houston Collie Rescue was overflowing with beautiful Collies who are up for adoption. (See below)

So, did the leaders of Houston's five kill shelters seize this opportunity to market the homeless dogs in their shelters?  After all, these five shelters, together, are killing 80,000 animals every year--that's over 200 animals killed every single day.  Did they take this opportunity to show off any of the very adoptable “death row” dogs who were scheduled to die over those 4 days?  Here is what I found:

City of Houston's spacious booth sat empty all weekend

1) The City of Houston had a huge, spacious booth in a prime location.  This was a great location because it was right by the food courts and restroom so just about every single person in the building would eventually walk by this area. Unfortunately, the city’s booth sat completely empty all weekend.  BARC, which is run by the city of Houston,  kills 80% of the animals coming into the shelter*. That is 27,000 animals every year --- 75 animals killed every day.  So 300 animals were killed at BARC over the 4 days of this dog show in which the city had a spacious booth, yet none of the death row dogs were taken to this fantastic adoption opportunity. There were 40,000 potential adopters all gathered in one building, but not one of them saw a dog from BARC.

Note: BARC also has a new Volunteer Coordinator so it is puzzling why there were no BARC volunteers manning the city’s booth.  The Volunteer Coordinator had volunteers manning the booth for the dog park group she also runs.  Why were there no volunteers for BARC as well?  Why were no "death row" BARC dogs brought this event to give them a chance for adoption?

2) Harris County Animal Control had no booth at all at the dog show.  HCAC kills 77.48% of the animals entering its shelter*; that is 20,000+ animals killed every year.  So 225 animals were killed at HCAC over those 4 days yet none were taken to this great adoption venue.

Houston SPCA's spacious booth with NO adoptable dogs.

3) The Houston SPCA had a spacious booth as well.  They had quite a few  volunteers, but not one homeless dog. The HSPCA kills 20,500* every year, so 230 animals were killed over the 4 days of this event but no death row dogs were seen at this great adoption venue.

4) The Houston Humane Society also had a booth.  HHS brought a lot of products for fund raising but brought only two small dogs that were up for adoption.  The Houston Humane Society has a 86% - 89% kill rate*. 15,000+ animals are killed at HHS every year.  That means approximately 170 animals were killed over those 4 days but only 2 homeless dogs were taken to this great adoption opportunity.

5) Citizens for Animal Protection (CAP) had a gigantic booth (see below).  It was by far the largest booth of any of the kill shelters. It was in a great location set off by itself, just outside one of the show rings.  But they had no adoptable dogs there.  They had dog houses that appeared to be for a fund raiser. Fund raisers are great; obviously every shelter needs money, but when a shelter is killing 46%* of the animals entering that shelter (6,300+ per year--- 70 during the 4 days of this event), doesn't it make sense to seize every single opportunity to get those death row animals out to the adopting public so they have a chance at being adopted?

As I have said before, when shelter directors tell us that they “must” kill because there just aren’t enough homes for all of the animals;  when shelters (or politicians) try to shift the blame to the “irresponsible public”  for pet “overpopulation”, remember this article.  Remember the tens of thousands of potential adopters who were at this dog show and who may have been persuaded to adopt a shelter pet if the condemned animals had only been there.

So many opportunities for increased adoptions were completely wasted last weekend and they are being ignored every single day in the city of Houston.  Shelter directors, who are truly dedicated to saving all healthy and treatable pets, recognize and seize these wonderful opportunities and they even create opportunities of their own. 

When does Houston get shelter directors like this?


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 *Statistics are from the 2005 Mayor's Task Force report. Current statistics are not available for some shelters as they refuse to produce their kill rate statistics to the public.


  • Pet Lover 5 years ago

    Shelters probably didn't want to bring dogs to the dog show because 1. it promotes spur of the moment adoptions. Pet adopters should think long and hard about adding another dog to their family.
    2. Shelter dogs are often carriers of Canine Influenza and other airborne illnesses. Exposing healthy animals to shelter dogs would be irresponsible of the shelters.
    Rescue organizations often use foster parents for their dogs so they are apt to be healthy and ok to be around other dogs.

    I have personally witness a show dog get sick after coming from the Houston Dog Show because airborne illness can spread so easily.

  • blessing all 5 years ago

    I'd say the disease carried by ignorant, fearful, excuse-making humans is the most fatal of all: the one called "NOT CARING."

    The vast majority of shelter dogs would be healthy in body and mind if they were given tender, solicitous love.

    Love is the single-most important solution for all that ails us and the animals who depend upon us for their needs.

    As for spur-of-the-moment adoptions, that's not the way the rescue organizations work. They ask visitors to fill out adoption forms, then they do a little research, then they accept or deny the applicant. The five kill shelters can do the same.

    Let's quit blaming the irresponsible public, when we have proof that shelter directors, who should know better and who are paid to serve the animals, are the most irresponsible of all. Their non-caring kills.

    The sad thing is, these directors have no clue how energizing it feels to be in the blessing business of saving lives instead of the bloody business of taking them.

  • Gary - Newark Religion & Social Issues Examine 5 years ago

    Thank you for this important article.

    I have also been writing about this subject, as well as police shootings of dogs, recently.

  • Heather In Montana 5 years ago

    What a shame. The least they could have done (since apparently bringing the dogs to the event wasn't an option) is have pictures and information on the available animals. If a person/family wants an animal truly, they will be willing to do the paperwork and go pick up the animal and do whatever is necessary to bring it home. What kills me is that even when people know that animals are being ruthlessly murdered it still doesn't make them do something about it. I am heart broken. I hope more people realize what is really going on in the world!

  • sandy 5 years ago

    This is just so sad, and truly disgusting...why are these people in this line of work?

  • Pam 5 years ago

    If the risk of disease was too great to bring in shelter dogs, they could of at least had pictures and information sheets available. Sheets with general info about size and breed, also included should be the date at which the animal will be put down if not adopted. It is very easy to carry around pieces of paper. Laptops with info on them could be available as well if someone would sponsor their use. There is no reason not to use those booths in this manner at all. Two people could easily run a booth in this manner. Both of my adopted dogs were actually picked out over the internet. after choosing the dog we believed that we wanted online, we then visited the shelter and it was love at first site in both cases. They were keepers and both dogs are happy and healthy. It can be done!

  • Diane C 5 years ago

    Pet Lover, are you really trying to make the argument that given the choice between death or a spur of the moment adoption, death is the better option? Better for whom?

  • To Pet Lover 5 years ago

    Many people have already done their homework and are prepared to bring a four-legged furry family member home when they attend these events. They go there because all that's left is to fall in love with a dog that grabs their heart.

    And what greater opportunity for these dogs than to be at a location where these dog-loving people will be? I know this because my husband and I are in this situation. For that reason, we are attending the San Antonio Pet Expo on Saturday, July 31.

    Organizations that are run by people who don't take advantage of these events to show off dogs who need homes have been in the "business" too long and need to leave their position. Let someone step in who actually still care about these dogs.

  • Rose 5 years ago

    I would have loved to see the homeless dogs at the show.
    I am wondering though, dont many people who attend the dog shows want pure bred dogs with papers and intact so they can possibly breed them?
    Many people wont even consider a shelter dog thinking that something is wrong with them.
    Such a mistake.
    All of my dogs are off the street, mixed breeds who are absolute, wonderful companions.

  • Barb 5 years ago

    To Rose: Thank you for that question. People don't always go to dog shows for the pure breeds. We are going to adopt a rescue dog. Always have and always will. But we also love ALL dogs so we attend the dog shows to love on all the dogs!

  • Kristin 5 years ago

    I think it's a mix of many factors. I worked in rescue for many years; and I can tell you that although there is often a willingness to do "the right thing" politics and disorganisation get in the way of doing what is BEST for the dog!!! It's so aggravating. I left the rescue I was with; because I got so sick of it...which is heartbreaking; because the dogs suffer.
    As for city/county run places--bureaucracy is often to blame. Citizens need to stand up and demand more from their cities and county run (read: tax payer funded) facilities...again to keep people accountable. Often, shelters and pounds are the first place to take a budget cut at city council meetings--so there may not have been enough staff to take the animals to those rescue fairs. So many factors play into it; the sad part is the animals, as with women and children take the hit.

  • Arienne 5 years ago

    My son and I volunteer at CAP and foster dogs who are sick. The staff there is amazing and nobody can tell me they do not care about the animals there. I agree, it would be a good idea to have info on adoptable pets at the show, but I agree with the post above that mentions airborne illnesses and spur of the moment adoptions that could be doomed to fail. The dog houses were auctioned and the money is going towards their new, larger facility. They will be able to help more pets with this facility. The Reliant Dog Show is not a venue meant for on the spot adoptions. Education is the key. That is a shame that BARC was not there, especially with all the bad publicity out there. My hat is off to the SPCA, CXAP and Humane Society for being present.

  • Jo Chester 5 years ago

    As long as the shelter dogs were vaccinated and free from obvious disease, there's no reason that they could not have been brought. Those are the criteria for bringing show dogs, after all. So many excuses for not making dogs available for adoption. Do these people prefer to kill the animals being brought to the shelters or are they just ignorant?

  • Lisa 5 years ago

    This dog, Sandy, looks SO MUCH like my mom's dog that was lost. She never found her. She was on medication for dental work and chased a squirrel and never came back. My mom was heart-broken and looked for months. Any idea where she came from? We called her Lacey.

  • Maddie's Mom 5 years ago

    And adoptions AT the shelter are not "spur of the moment"? The shelters and rescues that are the most successful are those utilizing mobile adoption sites. The animals don't have to be adopted on the spot...but they serve as great ambassadors to people interested in opening their homes up, either to adoption or even perhaps, fostering. Our mobiles allow for "meet and greet" of potential dogs for adoption....but none are "adopted" on site...but applications are taken, and home checks set up. And invitations to meet other potential adoptees that may not have been available for the mobile. It's about having representative dogs available for the public to meet and greet, and yes, to perhaps START the adoption process. But even if it were a "spur of the moment" placement, it beats the hell out of a death sentence.

    Illness is an issue shows, Petsmart, Petco, and worst of all, your vet's office. If shelters were smart, they'd use fosters too!

  • Dannielle Romeo 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for having the courage to write this article, and bring the real problems to light- the refusal or inability of major so-called "shelters" to do anything other than beg for money.
    it's not about finding homes for animals anymore, and when they do make a pathetic attempt at promoting adoptions, they are so concerned about "meeting adoption demand" for cute, small and young, they will even import puppies from across the border to become a store, not a rescue.

    more effort need to be made to find less popular animals a forever home. more public programs need to be implemented to help keep pets in their homes instead of being surrendered and to support adopters after a pet is taken home.

    I don't know a single show exhibitor who isn't a strong advocate for rehomable dogs. what a sad waste of an excellent opportunity to stop the killing.

  • Lisa 5 years ago

    BARC is appalling.

  • Lindsay Baish 4 years ago

    Hi Bett,
    My name is Lindsay and I'm the social media rep for BARC. Thanks for writing about this. I'm not sure exactly why there wasn't better representation at the Houston Dog Show on behalf of BARC, but I'll be sure to talk to the Volunteer Coordinator and the Director and see what might have happened.

    Regarding the commentary that says the directors "don't care, etc." I'd like to say that this isn't the case. I know words don't always mean much, but please know that the staff at BARC does care a lot about getting more animals safely into homes, just as BARC cares about helping the public understand about the importance of spaying, neutering, and healthy pet care. Please check out our Facebook page ( for more news and changes coming out of BARC.

    I'm a pet owner myself, so I know this is a hard subject for all of us. But join us on Facebook and take part in the conversation on how we can improve things for our pets in Houston. Thanks again, Bett.

  • Dog Show Know 4 years ago

    I know the dog show began requiring insurance for having dogs in non-profit booths this year and have not ever before. I have no idea how much it costs but it may have been a prohibitive factor. Most of the dogs at BARC are Pitbulls so I doubt they were even able to get insurance. If the Rescues just had Foster families "Drop By" with their foster dog(s) for an hour or two here and there, then they were not officially housing dogs in their booth like the shelters would (in crates), and so they probably bypassed it with a loophole and did not have to pay the insurance fees.

  • Dog Show Know 4 years ago

    I also know that you could not do adoptions on site as per show rules, so if someone wanted adopt they had to take the dog and the person back to the shelter to do the adoption. Or the person could pay on site but not take the dog home. The dog would be taken back to the shelter and the new owner could come pick them up the next day. That helped deter adoptions that were spur of the moment and may have also factored into shelter's decisions to not bring dogs.

  • Dog Show Know 4 years ago

    Maddie's Mom- shelters do reach out to rescue groups and fosters extensively, and they also do offsite adoptions. I know BARC does some, I have seen them.

  • Dog Show Know 4 years ago

    Maddie's Mom- shelters do reach out to rescue groups and fosters extensively, and they also do offsite adoptions. I know BARC does some, I have seen them.

  • Lindsay Baish 4 years ago

    I checked in on this situation with our volunteer coordinator and it appears there had been an unfortunate error. The former volunteer coordinator had scheduled BARC to have a booth at the show but then left without informing anyone. We regret not being able to bring some of our adoptable dogs there. Friends of BARC, our fantastic group of volunteers, also had a booth but were not able to pay for the insurance policy required to bring dogs to the show.

    In short, this was a regrettable lapse in communication. We look forward to attending this event next year. Please be sure to come to our other external adoption events we have lined up. Also the entire month of August we are featuring half price adoption weekends (on Saturday and Sunday) which lowers the cost of adoptions down to $27.50. Please tell your friends! This is a great and affordable adoption opportunity.

  • Bett Sundermeyer 4 years ago

    "Dog Show Knows", we bought the insurance. It was $100. No excuses.

  • Bett Sundermeyer 4 years ago

    Lindsay, I saw BARC's Volunteer Coordinator at the show that Fri. Why didn't she think of getting a booth for BARC dogs at that time, whether or not someone else had thought of it & dropped the ball?

    She had also arranged to have a booth for her dog park group manned by volunteers. If she thought to coordinate getting a booth for her dog park group, why didn't she think about coordinating a booth for BARC? That is part of her job now, right?

    Re: the insurance policy--It cost us $100.

    Sorry, but I'm just hearing a lot of excuses. I just came back from the No Kill conference in DC. There were shelter directors there who had turned kill shelters into No Kill shelters literally overnight. When the shelter director is dedicated to stopping the killing, it stops. Mr. Atencio & Mr. Moran may be nice people but they are NOT dedicated to stopping the killing. If they were, BARC would be much closer to No Kill than it is. They have the tools to stop it in their hands right now.

  • bestuvall 4 years ago

    Houston is the last place abyone would ever want a dog to live.. if they are picked up..DEATH.. as for the "pit bull" comments.. I am disgusted with all of you. I own a bully breed and commetns like this are doing nothing but feeding the crocodile hoping it eats you last..
    I applaud the pure bred owners at the dog show..they work hard with their dogs and spend a fortune on them to breed wonderful show and pet dogs.. and yet they open their arms to "rescue groups"
    Good for them.. and shame on BARC for letting this opportunity go by.. and if any one wants a dog on the spot who has no home.. LET THEM GO WITH THE PEOPLE WHO WANT THEM.. certainly a fate better than what awaits them if they are returned to the shelter

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