Community Support Leads Galveston County Animal Resource Center to Major Progress
Adoptions, rescues and redemptions were up in fiscal year 2016, resulting in a significant decrease in the euthanasia rate at the Galveston County Animal Resource Center (ARC). The 2016 statistics highlight a trend of improvement that’s been underway for the past five years.
“While our team has worked very hard to increase the number of pets going to forever homes, the credit really goes to the community.” said Amber Adams, ARC manager. “Without community support, our efforts would be fruitless.”
Of the pets that entered the ARC in fiscal year 2016, 1,500 (30%) were adopted, a 4% increase over the previous year and 20% increase from five years ago.
The ARC launched and enhanced a number of adoption incentives over the past several years, some with funding from the BootKikkers Bingo charity fund. Adoption incentives include half-price specials, reduced rates for senior animals and those with mostly black fur, and a program to cover the adoption fees of long-term animals. The ARC has also increased the number of adoption events at the shelter and participation in community events.
“Getting the pets out in the community where people can see and touch them is vital,” Adams continued. “We’re so honored that we’re being invited to more and more community events were this can happen.”
The effective use of technology is also playing a factor in the increasing adoption rate. Pictures and descriptions of pets available for adoption are posted at www.petharbor.com and regularly featured on www.facebook.com/garcpets and www.twitter.com/arcpets.
“Social media has been a huge success for us because thousands of people see and share the posts,” Adams continued. “It’s not uncommon for people to travel from outside the county and state to adopt an ARC pet they saw on social media.”
The ARC has also increased the visibility of its pets of the week, which have long been highlighted weekly in the county’s two major newspapers. Pets of the week videos are now also featured on the ARC section of the Galveston County Health District’s new website, social media, YouTube and the City of Texas City cable access channel.
All adoptions from the ARC include rabies vaccination, a microchip and spay or neuter. These services are included whether a pet is adopted at the normal fee of $85 or a reduced rate.
“We think people are recognizing that choosing the ARC as the place to adopt a pet is a good financial decision,” Adams said. “The services included in our fee could cost hundreds of dollars if obtained separately from the adoption.”
In fiscal year 2016, 602 (12%) ARC pets were transferred to rescue groups, a 3% increase over the previous year and a 5% increase from five years ago. The ARC has worked with more than 300 rescue groups over recent years.
Rescue groups are typically run by volunteers who take pets into their homes and care for them until a suitable permanent home can be found. These group can also provide care outside the scope of the shelter. For example, a dog recently seriously injured after being dragged by a truck was transferred to a rescue group for extensive medical care.
“We’re very proud of our growing partnerships with both local and distant rescue groups,” Adams said. “We’ve even had rescue groups fly ARC cats and dogs to other parts of the country to be placed in homes.”
Owners redeemed 580 pets from the ARC in fiscal year 2016, resulting in a 12% redemption rate. The 2016 statistic was 2% higher than the previous year and up 5% from five years ago.
Redemptions occur when a lost pet is brought to the shelter by an animal control officer or citizen and later claimed by the owner. Redemptions are much more likely to occur when pets are microchip and properly registered. Led by the ARC Animal Services Advisory Committee, the Galveston County United Board of Health made microchipping the required means of pet registration in April 2015, resulting in a 71% increase in registrations during the first year of the regulation.
“A microchip is your pet’s ticket home if they become lost,” Adams continued. “We can easily scan the microchip, get ownership info and make happy reunions happen.”
Pet owners whose dog or cat is not microchipped may bring the animal to the ARC to receive a microchip. The $20 registration fee includes a microchip and is good for the lifetime of the pet. The registration fee for pet owners age 65 and older is $15. There is no fee if the pet is microchipped through a private veterinarian as long as proper documentation is provided. Proof of rabies vaccination is required to complete pet registration.
The microchip regulation affects only the cities that are part of the interlocal agreement to be served by the ARC: Bayou Vista, Hitchcock, Kemah, La Marque, Texas City, Tiki Island and unincorporated Galveston County. More information is available at www.arcpets.org.
Of the 4,977 pets that entered the ARC in fiscal year 2016, 38% were humanely euthanized. This is an 11% decrease over the previous year and a 25% reduction from five years ago. Animals in shelters are euthanized due to illness, injury, aggression, ferality, owner request or overcrowding.
“Our euthanasia rate is always something we’re paying very close attention to,” Adams said. “Our efforts combined with community support have resulted in a significant improvement in this area and we work daily to continue the trend.”
Unlike all area shelters, the ARC is an open intake facility meaning it does not turn away pets surrendered by owners of the municipalities it serves. The ARC also has the highest intake volume of all shelters in the county. Higher intake volumes at shelters often correspond with euthanasia rates.
The ARC strives to educate the community about responsible pet ownership. This includes addressing pet overpopulation, the overall reason pets end up in shelters. The ARC provides spay and neuter services to all pets adopted from the shelter and promotes the importance of spaying and neutering.
Facility and Other Factors
The features and amenities of the beautiful, state-of-the-art shelter help encourage adoptions. The ARC has climate controlled indoor/outdoor runs for dogs and double-sided cages for cats, offering physical and mental benefits for the animals. The ARC also has large cat colony rooms for the community to interact with multiple cats at once. Large fenced yards allow staff and volunteers to take the dogs out for play time and the ability for potential adopters get acquainted with dogs they’re considering bringing home.
The ARC is committed to maintaining healthy environments for animals through disease control measures not all shelters can offer. This includes vaccinating all pets and administering external and internal parasite protection. Additionally, the design of the shelter’s runs, cages and kennels help prevent the spread of disease by restricting nose-to-nose contact. Cleaning procedures and specially-designed ‘toilets’ for pet waste disposal also help prevent ARC disease outbreaks.
In addition, the ARC has a crematorium that offers the community private services to cherish the memory of their pets.
“The pride and buy-in of our staff is at an all-time high. Our employees love their jobs and it shows in the teamwork and dedication they display every day,” Adams continued. “This culture has contributed to vast improvements in community participation and collaboration.”
The ARC is located at 3412 Loop 197 (25th Avenue North) in Texas City and can be reached at (409) 948-2485. More information about the ARC is available at www.arcpets.org.
About the Galveston County Animal Resource Center
The largest, most modern and best-equipped animal shelter in Galveston County, the Animal Resource Center (ARC) provides animal services to Bayou Vista, Hitchcock, Kemah, La Marque, Texas City, Tiki Island and unincorporated Galveston County. Learn more at www.arcpets.org or by calling (409) 948-2485