In the Rio Grande Valley, of the more than 5,800 dogs and cats taken to a certain shelter in one of our cities, only 44% made it out alive. Image for illustration purposes.
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Texas Border Business
By Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, January 2022
On January 17th, Betty White would have celebrated her centennial birthday. As many tributes pour out for her, one prominent aspect of Betty White’s career that is receiving deserving accolades is her work advocating for animals. This reminded me of a recent meeting where I was surprised to learn that in 2020, around 347,000 dogs and cats were killed in our nation’s shelters just because they didn’t have safe places to call home.
In the Rio Grande Valley, of the more than 5,800 dogs and cats taken to a certain shelter in one of our cities, only 44% made it out alive. Although more detailed data is unavailable, it appears that cats impounded by this city were roughly twice as likely to be killed as impounded dogs. One reason for the large number of pets handled by this shelter, is that it has contracts with several neighboring communities. I imagine that most residents that live in these communities are unaware of these contracts or the fate of the animals taken to this shelter. Now that we know these statistics, it is time for us to step up and act.
We have two cities in Hidalgo County that have proven positive action is possible and are leading the way in saving lives. Edinburg and Mission were recently certified as part of Mars Petcare’s Better Cities for Pets program. Among the key factors required to be certified are collaborative partnerships aimed at maximizing lifesaving efforts, low-cost spay/neuter services for population management, and access to the resources necessary to keep people and pets together. For Edinburg and Mission to be recognized as Better Cities for Pets is a positive reflection on the leadership of their elected officials and the hard work, dedication, and commitment of their shelter staff. The residents of Edinburg and Mission should be proud of this accomplishment.
These success stories are a testament to the will of RGV residents to provide better outcomes for local dogs and cats. However, more needs to be done across many of our communities. Too many healthy dogs and cats are entering local shelters and never making it out alive to new homes. The no-kill percentages and adoption rates vary greatly between communities in the RGV. I know that shelter staff across the region work hard every day to provide for these homeless animals, but the sheer number of unwanted pets is overwhelming.
The good news is that many people in the RGV love their pets and some communities have proven that there are partnerships and policies that can be implemented to save lives. We need to increase our adoption rates from our local shelters. Prospective pet owners in the RGV should strongly consider adopting before buying a puppy or kitten. We also need to increase the number of spayed or neuter pets in our communities. Having your pet spayed or neutered helps control the pet homelessness crisis and decrease the number of animals in need of shelter. There are also medical and behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering our pets. Awareness, community support, and access to resources are the key factors in providing better outcomes.