San Marcos animal shelter pushes toward “no kill” status

Hays

SAN MARCOS, Texas – The cats in the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter cages will flip upside down, flash paws or claws and meow endlessly to get your attention. And the dogs, well, one sad look and you’re hooked.

Dalton Johnson was looking for a feline friend Friday. “I prefer cats,” said Johnson.

Not all of them will leave there alive, though. In fact, last year, the San Marcos shelter killed 2,049 of 4,534 animals it took in – 45 percent. It only has 89 dog kennels and 60 cat cages. When those are full, some tough decisions must be made.

The gravity is not lost on Johnson. “I felt bad for the older ones, because there’s a lower chance that they’ll be adopted and they’ll eventually be put down.”

That’s the motivation behind a new push to make the shelter “no-kill,” meaning it would save and adopt out 90 percent or more of its animals.

“It’s going to take a little time for us to get there. Part of it is resources and funding,” said Jeff Caldwell, San Marcos director of Neighborhood Services.

At a recent San Marcos Animal Advisory Board meeting, board member and Buda police Sgt. Bill Kuykendall floated the idea of creating a special taxing district to add dedicated funding for the shelter. That idea, though, would have to be approved by the voters of Hays County.

“I hope they put their money where their heart is,” said animal advocate Jennifer Hayes, who added her support to a no-kill initiative at the board meeting.

“We’re at some really nice opening discussions. I don’t know what it will look like when it finally gets done,” said Caldwell.

“Interest is growing,” said Hayes. “We want them to learn from other shelters, other welfare organizations. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel.”

Caldwell said San Marcos is looking to other cities for ideas on resources. San Marcos just formed a partnership with Austin Pets Alive! to transfer any overflow of cats to the Austin nonprofit. And they already rely on other community partners like Prevent a Litter (PALS) of Central Texas and the PAWS Shelter in Kyle.

Whatever the ultimate solution is, Caldwell said it will require community support.

“Austin had a groundswell around their no-kill initiative. And they had a lot of the community step forward to help with fostering, funding, all of those kinds of things,” said Caldwell. “San Marcos is going to need those steps to move closer to that goal.”

The Animal Advisory Board hopes to take a more developed proposal to San Marcos City Council in a couple of months.

Johnson, meanwhile, took home an orange tabby.

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