Furry friends soon will be more plentiful for potential Temple pet owners as the city plans an expansion of the animal shelter.
Temple city officials plan on expanding the shelter in the next two or three years by issuing certificate of obligation bonds. The need for the expansion comes as the city continues to grow and the number of animals in the shelter is constantly at capacity.
“As the shelter is almost always at capacity, the current hope is to expand the shelter and increase the capacity of the shelter as the city continues to grow,” Amy Strunk, animal shelter supervisor, said. “Additional space would provide the ability to separate intake or newly arrived animals from animals that are available for adoption. It would lessen the overcrowding of the current dog runs.”
Strunk said the shelter is almost always at or near capacity, with resources set aside to care for the animals being “very limited.”
While the Temple animal shelter is designated as a limited no-kill shelter, it can only hold up to 34 dogs and 22 cats at any one time. Strunk said the shelter usually sees about 140 adoptions each month, with another 47 animals being picked up by their owners.
Last year, Strunk said the shelter was able to take in more than 3,500 animals, including cats, dogs and wildlife. More than 2,100 animals were adopted or released to their owners.
“One of our main concerns is the growth of the animal population, not only of stray animals, but of those that are over bred,” Strunk said. “Although we do everything in our power to ensure that every animal receives the proper care and attention it needs, resources are very limited. We urge our residents to take every effort to spay or neuter their pets in order to help control the growing number of stray animals.”
Strunk said the shelter tries to limit the number of animals that get euthanized. Last year, about 25 percent of the animals were put down, mainly because of health issues, injuries or overly aggressive tendencies.
The shelter took in 3,188 cats and dogs in 2019, with 1,748 adopted, 482 reclaimed by their owners and 869 euthanized. The remaining 89 animals stayed in the shelter, contributing to over-crowded conditions.
The city also took in 361 wild animals, euthanized 55 and released 306.
City spokeswoman Laurie Simmons said the city considers its 73 percent adoption and reclamation rate above average considering the shelter takes in as many animals as possible without turning any away.
“Other cities in our area do not accept owner surrenders and turn animals away when their shelter is full,” Simmons said. “Some even separate their shelter numbers from their animal control numbers, so they can say they are a no-kill shelter.”
Simmons said the city hopes residents will make sure to spay and neuter their animals to help cut down on the number of pets crowding the shelter.
To help fix the capacity issues at the shelter, city officials plan on issuing certificate of obligation bonds in either fiscal year 2022 or 2023 to pay for an expansion of the shelter. Certificates of obligation are a type of debt the city can issue without having to go to the voters for approval.
City officials initially planned to put the issue before voters in a public safety bond this year, but decided to issue certificates of obligation instead.
Initial concepts for the planned additions to the shelter include an expansion of both cat and dog housing, and increasing the number of dog kennels from 30 to 70. The shelter also hopes to add outdoor pocket parks so residents can play with animals they are considering adopting.
Strunk said she also hopes the shelter can have an onsite veterinarian in the future who can spay and neuter animals prior to them being adopted.
New hours on Saturdays
The shelter announced a change in weekend hours to help accommodate more residents looking to adopt. Shelter hours on Saturday will start two hours earlier, at 10 a.m. instead of noon. The shelter will continue to close at 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
“Our goal in extending our Saturday hours is to increase the total number of adoptions,” Simmons said. “With additional time for families to visit the shelter on the weekends, we hope that more of our animals will find their forever homes, while also freeing up space for future animals coming in.”