In December 2015, the City achieved a live release rate of 90% for the first time in the history of San Antonio with the help of our partners, volunteers, and the community. We recently celebrated this historic milestone at the Animal Care Services (ACS) facility on highway 90. With the support of the city council, ACS have made tremendous progress over the past ten years considering that the city’s live release rate was less than 10% in 2006.
In 2007, we embarked on an effort to improve ACS and developed a strategic plan. This plan was developed in conjunction between the City’s Animal Care Advisory Board as well as a consortium of local non-for profit partners. The goal of this plan was to achieve a 70% live release rate in five years; however by 2011 the city’s live release rate was only 31%.
In 2011, we asked the Office of Innovation to conduct a “best practice review” of Animal Care Services organizations across the country and come up with a strategy that would increase the live release rate and decrease the stray animal population. This new strategy called for stronger partnerships with the community and stakeholder groups, hiring the right leadership for the ACS, improving business processes, and measuring outcomes.
Achieving this highpoint is a result of the hard work of our committed Animal Care Services department led by Kathy Davis and the partnerships we have developed with great organizations like the Humane Society, the Animal Defense League, San Antonio pets alive!, Best Friends, and Petco and the other many rescue partners that work with the City.
We have also dramatically increased the number of spay/surgeries performed. In 2007 there were 21,000 surgeries completed, today with the assistance of our many partners, the community is performing nearly 60,000 surgeries per year.
Tremendous focus has been placed in proactive enforcement. Animal Care officers visit city neighborhoods to proactively address community issues, impound stray animals, sweep neighborhoods for loose and roaming dogs, return them to their owners and educate the community.
With the support of the City Council, we have modified many ordinances to improve enforcement and aid the return of pets to their owners. Through the microchip ordinance, more than 3600 pets were returned to their owners in 2015 – a 32% increase from the previous year.
The newly created education and outreach team is also walking our neighborhoods and talking to citizens about responsible pet ownership. Their mission is to help pet owners understand the laws and take advantage of the free services we offer.
The journey is not over. We continue to implement additional changes and improvements that will enhance the quality of life for San Antonio. We want to thank once again our animal care services department, our community partners, our volunteers and the San Antonio community for coming together to achieve this historical milestone.