[NOTE: The Worth Watching category lists communities whose animal shelter systems are doing substantially better than average, but have not reported a sustained (for one year or more) 90%+ live release rate. These communities are not counted in the running total in the blog's subtitle. For more about the Worth Watching category, see the Worth Watching page link in the blog's header.]
San Antonio is a fast-growing city in south-central Texas with a population of 1.3 million people. Greater San Antonio has a population of over 2.2 million people.
In 2006, San Antonio Animal Care Services (ACS) had a live release rate of only 10%. At that time, the shelter put forth a strategic plan to achieve live release of all adoptable animals by 2012. The shelter failed to reach the goal, however, and in September of 2011 it put forth a new strategic plan in which it acknowledged that its live release rate was only 31%.
The 2011 strategic plan identified three elements as “critical” to achieving a high live release rate: (1) a strong licensing program, (2) spay/neuter partnerships, and (3) high-volume rescue partnerships. The report noted that San Antonio “has existing strong spay/neuter partnerships, and has simplified the licensing program within the past year.” As to the third element, the report stated that the city “is challenging the animal welfare community to take on an additional 6,000 animals annually from ACS shelters.”
There have been many changes since the 2011 plan was released. Early in 2012, the city announced that Austin Pets Alive!, which had been helping ACS, was ready to partner with the city of San Antonio through a new organization, San Antonio Pets Alive!. The San Antonio Humane Society takes in hundreds of pets from ACS, as well as accepting animals directly from the public. Late in 2012, ACS welcomed a new director, Kathy Davis. The city recently announced an agreement with another non-profit, the Animal Defense League of Texas, which will manage a new 2.2 million dollar shelter built by the city.
For the fiscal year ending in September 2012, ACS reported a 76% live release rate, with an adjusted intake of 37,053 animals. For the first three months of 2013, ACS reported a live release rate of over 80%.