On any given day in San Antonio the line at Animal Care Services (ACS) to surrender a family pet or drop off a stray animal is unrelenting. Princess, a 3 year old Rottweiler mix, was surrendered to ACS because her family was moving into an apartment with breed restrictions. Despite the movement towards becoming a no-kill City shelter, the reality is that pets surrendered by their owners are at immediate risk of euthanasia. Princess fell into this category – dropped off at 2pm and on the euthanasia list for 5pm.
Per ACS, in fiscal year 2014, there were 1,907 owner surrendered pets to the City shelter. There is no system in place to measure how many were surrendered due to a move. Daily online appeals from San Antonio Pets Alive (SAPA), Positive Alternative to Shelter Surrender (PASS) and ACS illustrate that many of those pleas can be attributed to an owner moving. There are better alternatives than taking a pet directly to ACS.
If there is an anticipated move and taking a pet is unlikely for whatever reason, the research that may save your pet’s life should be started now. Two other limited intake shelters in San Antonio are the Animal Defense League and the Humane Society. Intake is not guaranteed at either, however owner-surrendered pets that are accepted will not be at risk of euthanasia. Additionally, organizations like SAPA and PASS work diligently to assist owners in finding alternative placement for pets that would otherwise go to ACS. Their assistance can be initiated by contacting them through their website.
Find out in advance whether or not the place you are moving to allows your pet’s specific breed. There are apartments available that welcome pets that are on most restricted breeds list. There are organizations that will lend assistance in rehoming a pet in danger of being left behind in a move. Google “animal rescue organizations in San Antonio” and a number of organizations come up that have extensive social networks. Research a potential adopter yourself. The best outcome is when a pet is rehomed directly from their current home straight to the next, forgoing the stressful shelter environment. All of these options however require that an owner plan their pet’s future in advance.
ACS should be the absolute last option because a live outcome for your pet cannot be guaranteed. Ultimately, our pets are not the City’s responsibility. Taking a pet directly to ACS relies on the chance that others will do the work to save your pet’s life. This is dangerous and sad for a pet who has no idea why they are suddenly in a foreign, cold environment and can cause their personality to change due to severe stress and confusion. In Princess’ case, she was saved by Protecting Animals Within San Antonio (P.A.W.S.).
Having a pet is a lifetime commitment. We owe it to them to exhaust all possible options before surrendering them to the City shelter and relying on others to save their life.