RGV Humane Society to open new animal shelter; calls for adoptions

dfwnewsa | December 27, 2023 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

RGV Humane Society to open new animal shelter; calls for adoptions

HARLINGEN — There’s a new animal shelter opening in town.

Two weeks after Harlingen officials terminated its $400,000 annual contract, the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society is planning to open a “no-kill” shelter here.

After 34 years, city officials called for the termination of the Humane Society’s contract after arguing the nonprofit agency boasting a “no-kill” stand wasn’t accepting Harlingen residents’ pets

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at the city-owned shelter while Harlingen’s stray population grows “out of hand.”

Meanwhile, they argued the Humane Society’s leaders failed to account for their expenditure of the city’s annual $400,000 payment.

With the contract under which the Humane Society operates the city-owned shelter set to expire Jan. 18, city officials are requesting proposals for the shelter’s operations.

Now, the Humane Society’s announcing it’s opening a new shelter at 2729 N. Expressway 77, the site of the former Harlingen U-Pull auto parts scrap yard.

“Though the city of Harlingen has abandoned the no-kill movement, RGVHS refuses to abandon the animals and our community in the Rio Grande Valley,” the nonprofit’s leaders said in a news release. “The Harlingen shelter will be going through a transition period in the weeks to come. The Rio Grande Valley Humane Society remains committed to saving lives and making a positive impact in our life-saving mission to make the RGV a safer place for pets.”

The new shelter will serve as the site of the Humane Society’s animal adoption and fostering programs while offering residents “low-cost” services, the news release stated.

A girl points to Ziola, a cat up for adoption at the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society in Harlingen on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

“This new location will host RGVHS’ low-cost community clinics, spay/neuter clinics and be the main location for our Harlingen foster programs,” organizers said.

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The Humane Society did not have information readily available regarding the new shelter’s opening date and its size, board President Lillian Kim said.

About three weeks before its contract’s set to expire, the Humane Society’s calling on residents to help adopt and foster the city-owned shelter’s dogs and cats.

“At this time, RGVHS’ sole focus is on saving as many dogs and cats at our Harlingen location through adoption or foster,” organizers said. “Currently, 48 dogs reside in the Harlingen shelter and need an outcome through adoption, foster or rescue immediately.”

Meanwhile, organizers raised concerns over the city’s future shelter operations.

A view of the facade of the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society in Harlingen in Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

“The safety and live outcome of the 48 dogs onsite is not guaranteed once the city of Harlingen takes control of the Harlingen shelter on Markowsky Avenue,” organizers said. “The city of Harlingen has made it abundantly clear that life-saving is no longer a priority, which directly threatens the lives of our shelter animals currently in custody. Please help RGVHS save the animals under our care in Harlingen.

“As we move forward into the new year, our Harlingen animals should not have to suffer from the actions of the city of Harlingen. Your support is needed now more than ever before. Consider joining our life-saving mission by adopting, fostering, donating and advocating for our Harlingen animals today.”

In response to the Humane Society’s claims, Mayor Norma Sepulveda pointed to what she described as “inaccuracies,” standing behind city officials’ commitment to the sheltered animals’ welfare.

Harlingen Mayor Norma Sepulveda

“First and foremost, the city of Harlingen remains deeply committed to the welfare of all animals in our community,” she said in a statement. “The claim that lifesaving is no longer a priority for us is misleading. Our commitment to animal welfare remains as strong as ever.”

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“Regarding the future of the animals currently housed at the Harlingen shelter, we assure the community that their welfare is a top priority,” she said. “We are working diligently to ensure a smooth transition during this period and are committed to finding humane and compassionate solutions for all animals affected by this change.”

Sepulveda noted officials are requesting proposals for the shelter’s operation, while opening the door for the Humane Society to respond to the request.

“We have issued a request for proposals for the operation of our shelter, to which RGVHS is welcome to apply, provided they comply with the necessary financial disclosures,” she said.

“We are seeking a new partnership that aligns with our values and commitments, including comprehensive care for all dogs and cats, foster and adoption programs and a proactive approach to addressing pet overpopulation through spay and neuter initiatives,” she said.

In her statement, Sepulveda said officials terminated the Humane Society’s agreement based on the agency’s “breach of contract.”

Lucy looks out the front windshield of a car Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023, in front of the Rio Grande Valley Humane Society in Harlingen. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

“Currently, RGVHS is not fulfilling its contractual obligation to accept stray animals, which is a breach of their contract and a disservice to our community’s needs,” she said, adding the agency wasn’t accepting animal control officers’ intake requests.

“Just yesterday, the city was forced to take two stray dogs to a shelter in a neighboring city because RGVHS refused to accept the dogs from animal control,” she said.

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Sepulveda went on to cite what she described as “significant changes” within the Humane Society that she believes led to new policies.

“While it is true that the city has enjoyed a partnership with the Harlingen Humane Society for over 30 years, we have observed significant changes in the organizational structure and operations of the shelter over the last few years, including a complete overhaul of their board and operational methodologies, specifically becoming a limited-intake facility and closing their doors to residents wishing to rescue animals off our streets or surrendering a pet,” she said.

“Unfortunately, these changes were made without collaboration or input from the city. The shift has led to a gradual but inevitable breakdown in our much valued partnership.”

READ: Harlingen mayor 12/27/23 statement

Last month, Commissioner Rene Perez, a leader behind the city’s push for a new Humane Society contract, described Harlingen’s stray population as “out of hand.”

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.

The post RGV Humane Society to open new animal shelter; calls for adoptions appeared first on MyRGV.com.

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