RGV Humane Society calling for help as Harlingen shelter is ‘overcrowded’dfwnewsa | December 15, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News
HARLINGEN — The Rio Grande Valley Humane Society is calling on residents to take home stray dogs and cats to help cut down on “severely overcrowded” conditions that could force increased euthanasia at the animal shelter boasting its “no-kill” stand.
With a city-set capacity for 92 dogs and 30 cats, the shelter was caring for 88 dogs and 55 cats late Friday morning, Melissa Saldana, the Humane Society’s interim executive director, said.
As early as Monday, officials are facing increased euthanasia at the region’s only “no-kill” shelter, she said.
”We are over-capacity more than ever before,” Saldana said Friday. “Animal control has not and will not stop bringing in animals.”
On Thursday, 11 dogs entered the shelter within five minutes, she said.
“The Harlingen shelter is severely overcrowded and dogs continue to arrive,” the Humane Society said in press release. “Right now, every dog under our care in our Harlingen shelter remains at risk once again. For over three years, the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society has kept the flame of the no-kill movement alive throughout the RGV. With your help we can preserve that flame of hope. We need the RGV community to come together and help make space through adoption or foster. Anybody interested in adopting a dog should head to the shelter as soon as possible.”
As organizers call on residents for help, they’ve taken steps to prepare dogs and cats for adoption and fostering while waiving fees.
“All adopted pets will go home up-to-date on vaccinations, dewormer, on preventatives for fleas, ticks and heart worms, microchipped and either already spayed or neutered or with an appointment for spay or neuter at no cost to the adoptive family,” the press release states.
At City Hall, Assistant City Manager Josh Ramirez questioned the Humane Society’s plea for help at the shelter he described as typically at capacity.
“Why now?” he asked, regarding the agency’s plea. “They’re always at capacity.”
Now, city officials are planning to build a bigger animal shelter carrying a price tag of about $2 million on 10 acres of city-owned land near public works operations on East Harrison Avenue, Ramirez said.
“We’re in the planning stages,” he said, adding officials are working to present a proposal in February. “The overall (plan) is to improve shelter operations and capacity.”
For more than two months, city officials have been calling on the Humane Society to work to revise the agency’s $400,000 contract.
In September, animal rights groups’ heated concerns led commissioners to give the Humane Society 120 days to help them revise a proposed contract.
Now, the clock is ticking, with the extension set to expire Jan. 18.
For weeks, city officials have been requesting the Humane Society provide detailed financial information into its operations to help determine whether the agency is using the city’s $400,000 annual contribution to serve Harlingen residents, Mayor Norma Sepulveda said.
Last Friday, organizers presented City Hall with their response, which didn’t include the information officials are requesting, Ramirez said.
“We received some information but it’s not what we’re looking for,” he said. “To me, it doesn’t satisfy our request for information. To me, it doesn’t show anything.”
At City Hall, officials have been requesting lists of grants for which the Humane Society applied in 2022 and 2023, lists of spay-and-neuter clinics the agency held during 2022 and 2023 along with lists of spay and neuter recipients as well as each clinic’s revenue.
Officials are also requesting the Humane Society present dates of vaccination clinics it held during 2022 and 2023, a list of the services’ recipients along with each clinic’s revenue.
The requests also include lists of the Humane Society’s veterinarians during 2022 and 2023, lists of animal rescues during 2022 and 2023, lists of its board members with their meeting dates and locations, along with lists of the shelter’s employees and salaries, with written adoption and fostering policies as well as the agency’s euthanasia policy.
Across town, the number of stray dogs and cats has grown “out of hand,” Commissioner Rene Perez, a leader behind the commission’s push to revise the current contract, said in an earlier interview.
While he’s seen a small pack of stray dogs roaming the streets, stray cats have formed a “colony” behind the Target store in the city’s main retail district off Dixieland Road, Perez said.
Meanwhile, he said the shelter has been “refusing” to take in Harlingen residents’ pets while also refusing some animal control officers’ intake requests.
Since about 2020, the Humane Society, under past Executive Director Luis Quintanilla, began operating as a “no-kill” shelter, slashing its number of euthanasia procedures.
Last month, Quintanilla resigned after about four years on the job.
In September, Quintanilla, along with animal rights groups, argued the city’s proposed contract would lead the shelter to accept more dogs and cats, forcing the “no-kill” agency to euthanize more animals.
In response to heated concerns, commissioners agreed to grant the Humane Society a 120-day extension on its current contract giving the nonprofit $400,000 a year, while Sepulveda called on the parties to “negotiate” a new agreement.
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