HAYS COUNTY (KXAN) — Eight dogs will now undergo treatment and rehabilitation efforts at a Central Texas animal rescue group after they were saved from euthanasia risks at the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter.
The eight dogs were initially brought to SMRAS by Hays County officials following an animal seizure for a hoarding and cruelty case. Due to limited resources paired with these dogs’ high level needs, they had been at risk for euthanization Tuesday.
Christie Banduch, shelter services manager at SMRAS, said these dogs had been isolated and lacked key socialization with humans, leading to some behavioral concerns and heightened need for outside rescue services to intervene. While shelters often deal with the need for more fosterers and adopters, she said rescue only services are requested for the most extreme circumstances, where animals need rehabilitation.
“That’s not something that we’re going to ask the community to come in and take these dogs into their homes,” she said. “We need somebody with experience in rehabilitating dogs that are kind of at this level.”
Those trained professionals came in the form of Central Texas Ruffugees, an animal rescue organization that pulls from shelters in need of supporting dogs’ physical and emotional rehabilitations. CTR is working with SMRAS, My Buddy Pet Resort and volunteer Jen Harris to help train and socialize the pups.
“They are going to all need extensive vetting as it is pretty certain they have never been to a vet in their life,” said Marla Briley, president and founder of CTR, in an email. “We are positive with patience, time and some TLC, these guys will come around.”
When it comes to identifying animal rescue groups, interested organizations submit their 501c(3) status documents to validate their rescue status, Banduch said. From there, she said SMRAS also checks the organization’s stances on animal care and spaying and neutering to make sure their values align with SMRAS.
Harris has worked as a volunteer with SMRAS for years and is working closely with these eight dogs as they undergo assistance. She said CTR and My Buddy Pet Resort will continue to assess current needs of the animals while providing them a safe place to stay.
“We do need to continue just kind of assessing their needs and what would be best for them in the long term,” Harris said. “And so they are actually going to a fantastic boarding facility in San Marcos who offered to open their doors to give these guys a chance, and so =we’re really thankful that we have that opportunity and we’ll be assessing them to place them in fosters in smaller increments.”
For several years now, SMRAS has operated as a no-kill status shelter, but Banduch said there are extreme circumstances where euthanizations do occur. Euthanasia is not used as a capacity management practice at SMRAS, she added.
SMRAS’ 90% live outcome status means 90% of dogs taken in by the shelter live, while 10% have passed due to medical issues, trauma sustained during shelter rescue pickups or other circumstances. Between January and March of this year, Banduch said the shelter’s euthanization rate was 4.63%.
“We don’t euthanize for space,” she said. “The situation like with these eight dogs, in particular, we’re so overcrowded and spread so thin with staffing, we do not have the resources to provide appropriate care to animals that need that level of care. So that’s why we were reaching out for rescue help.”
Back in the fall, Hays County approved funding for a study on a potential county-run animal shelter. A Hays County spokesperson said an update on the study’s findings could come in the next few months.
“The County’s consultant, Team Shelter USA, has begun collecting data and will begin meeting with stakeholders, including county representatives, beginning later this week,” Hays County Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe said in an emailed statement.
While these particular dogs were ineligible for fostering and adoption, Banduch stressed the importance of more people considering short and long-term fostering and adoption as a means of supporting local shelters. She also said pet owners should be vigilant in spaying and neutering pets so unintended breeding doesn’t happen, which can lead to heightened capacity strains.
“We don’t want to give the community a false sense of security and go, ‘well, the shelter is no kill so I don’t have to do my part anymore. Everything’s fine.’ It’s not fine,” Banduch said. “We’re still overcrowded. This is a daily struggle for the [workers] here. To me, there’s kind of a fine line, like, yes, we’re here and we’re saving these animals. But that’s because the staff here is saving them and doing everything that it takes.”