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Amarillo animal shelter overpopulation prompts new proposal

Amarillo, TX - Thousands of pets that have not been microchipped or spayed and neutered continue to burden Amarillo's animal shelter each month, a problem the Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare Board is now addressing.

This July more than 1,000 stray dogs and 250 cats came through the Amarillo animal shelter. "Right now we are looking at every option and everything we can do to better this community. We do have a problem. We have an overpopulation problem," said board chair Sunny Hodge-Campbell. "But we need to know what the population is. We're seeing a thousand stray dogs coming in the shelter in the month of July and that's too many. So we need to know who these animals belong to and how many are out there."

Monday evening the board took the first of many steps towards reducing the shelter's overpopulation problem. The board voted to recommend the city council create an ordinance requiring all pets leaving the shelter be microchipped. This would cost an adopter or an owner redeeming their animal from the pound about $15 dollars, a cost they believe is worth it.

"The animal control officers all carry scanners. And they can scan the animal and see who it belongs to and you can be reunited with your animal a lot faster," said Hodge-Campbell.

The board is also drafting a pet registration program that could include vaccinations and microchipping requirements in order to own a pet within city limits. The vaccinations being considered include rabies, parvo and distemper. Both parvo and distemper are widespread within the pet community this summer.

The pet registration program will be addressed at the board's September meeting as well as other possible programs. "We need to look at something involving spay and neutering. That's the only way we are going to be able to get a handle on the pet population in Amarillo," added Hodge-Campbell.

As far as the shelter's ability to serve the pet population, the city hired Target Zero Institute, a third-party organization specializing in animal shelters, to audit everything that happens at the shelter. "They will examine all our processes like how we manage the shelter, how we clean the shelter, the medical side of the shelter, how sick animals are handled and dealt with and how our field officers conduct themselves," explained Assistant City Manager Bob Cowell.

Cowell said Target Zero will be able to offer a fresh and unbiased perspective on how they can improve the shelter. The organization will also help the city develop a guideline to evaluate candidates for a permanent shelter director, which they will start looking for soon. Cowell said he hopes to have a new director in place by this November.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10
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  • Madison Alewel

    Madison Alewel

    Madison anchors the 4, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts. She joined NewsChannel10 as a reporter in October 2013.

    Madison anchors the 4, 6, 9 and 10 p.m. newscasts. She joined NewsChannel10 as a reporter in October 2013.

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