Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care (BARC) “is finally on the right track.,” Mayor Annise Parker said on Monday at a news conference announcing the 2015 grand opening of a new shelter and adoption center, the Houston Chronicle reports.
“In less than five years, BARC has completely transformed from a mismanaged and unorganized shelter to an organization managed and staffed by business-minded people that care deeply about animals,” Parker said.
BARC is an open-entry shelter--accepting all animals brought to its doors, regardless of condition or behavior--and has been a long-time target of complaints by animal-rights advocates for the thousands of animals it euthanizes each year.
BARC is now releasing more animals to Rescued Pets Movement, officials said, with more than 2,600 animals then shipped to non-profits and adoption groups in Colorado since RPM started working with BARC in October 2013, according to the Chronicle.
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Parker also announced a 72 percent monthly live-release rates for the 3,200 impounded animals accepted at BARC in January and February, she said. However, that rate went back to 51 percent in June, when the shelter took in about 2,300 animals.
BARC also partners with SNAP, Friends for Life and others to provide free spay/neuter surgeries and other wellness services for dogs and cats, says CulturalMap.com More than 275 dogs and cats have been spayed or neutered free through the Healthy Pets Healthy Streets initiative program.
Houston’s City Council is taking an important step toward resolving the sources of its long-term animal problems by approving a $2.9 million increase to BARC's budget for fiscal year 2015, but it is not expected to enable the overwhelmed Bureau to meet the needs of the animals and demands of residents in the community.
With additional resources, BARC plans to hire 22 new full-time employees, 12 of whom will be animal control officers, according to the Chronicle.
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Even with this added funding BARC's Animal Control expects it will be able to respond to less than half of the requests for service it receives per year, officials say. It is projected to respond to 40 percent, up from 25 percent of service requests.