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.