Fort Worth’s animal shelter to partner with nonprofit on spay, neuter surgeriesdfwnewsa | January 1, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News
Feral cat colonies are managed by several nonprofits working in Fort Worth. Colony managers will ensure feral cats are captured, spayed or neutered, vaccinated and released. The city will seek to partner with more nonprofits in 2024 to reduce shelter populations. (Rachel Behrndt | Fort Worth Report)
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Fort Worth’s animal shelters are operating at capacity, and more stray animals are dying on Fort Worth’s streets.
A nationwide shortage of veterinarians, rising cost of living and other challenges have caused a significant rise in the number of animals euthanized in Fort Worth shelters. The situation has prompted the city to waive adoption fees and hold holiday adoption events as the city works to ensure more animals leave the shelter with a new family.
Now, the city is partnering with Operation Kindness to increase the number of animals spayed or neutered in Fort Worth’s animal shelters. The goal is to quickly move more animals through the shelter system.
“You can’t afford to waste an hour of an animal unnecessarily sitting in a cage when it could be moving forward, let alone days or weeks,” Ed Jamison, CEO of Operation Kindness, said. “Every minute they’re sitting in an enclosure that they could be moving forward is slowing down the process, or quite frankly, potentially taking cage space away from another needy animal.”
Operation Kindness will lend vets, vet technicians and resources to perform spay and neuter surgeries at Fort Worth shelters. The nonprofit performed its first surgeries Dec. 21. In its first week, Operation Kindness performed 200 surgeries on shelter animals, according to Chris McAllister, assistant director over animal care and control.
The partnership is part of a broader strategy to make medical care more efficient in the city’s shelters. The department also plans on hiring new staff to promote education and coordinate volunteers.
Now, the city employs one full-time veterinarian and several part-time contract veterinarians. It partially depends on nonprofit partners to contribute resources for animals in the shelter and feral cats who need to be trapped, neutered, vaccinated and released back into feral colonies.
The city shelters take in about 50 animals per day and are regularly at 100% capacity, McAllister said.
“In some cases, it’s hard for us to keep up with them but we are managing. So any bandwidth that we have, we’re reaching out to our partners,” McAllister said.
Shelters across the country are taking in more animals and adopting out less, Jamison said. He attributes the slowdown to staff shortages in key positions — veterinarians, vet technicians and cage cleaners.
As government shelters take on more of a rescue-focused mission, nonprofits like Operation Kindness need to fill gaps in resources to prevent euthanizations, Jamison said.
“We’re taking something that we happen to have, which is veterinarians, and allowing them to be able to spread the wealth around for partners,” Jamison said.
While spay and neutering could help reduce the overall population of strays, McAllister expects shelter populations will continue to grow as more people move to Fort Worth.
City ordinances require residents to spay and neuter their pets, but enforcement can be difficult, McAllister said.
“The truth is, we’re never going to cite our way into compliance. It has to be through education,” McAllister said. “I can spay and neuter 100 dogs a day for the next 10 years, and I don’t know if that’s going to control the population the way we need to see it controlled.”
He hopes hiring employees to manage social media, public education and volunteers will help connect the public with nonprofit resources that provide free or cheap spay and neuter surgeries such as Spay Neuter Network and Texas Coalition for Animal Protection.
Rachel Behrndt is a government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.