Amarillo Animal Management & Welfare is finishing up some major physical and policy changes to help protect and better the lives of the city's shelter pets.
Tuesday evening Richard Havens, Director of Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare, briefed the city council on shelter improvements and the need for more legislation to control the city's overpopulation of abandoned animals.
While Amarillo's live release rates are up, and euthanasia rates are down, the council said the city still has a long way to go.
For months, the city's animal shelter has been going through renovations to increase quality of life of the animals that live at the shelter.
Animals often get sick when in the shelter for too long, but newly resurfaced kennel floors and walkways are easier to clean and less likely to harbor germs that infect the dogs.
They're also finishing up a new cat building that will separate adoptable cats from stray ones and give the felines a better environment to live.
Havens hopes to have that open by the end of this year.
In terms of policy, Havens addressed a stricter euthanasia protocol made necessary by the constant overcrowding of the shelter.
"The animals are coming at us quicker than they're leaving," said Havens. "That really leaves no other course of action but euthanasia. But we don't want to [do that]. That's why we need people to be responsible. When they spay and neuter their animals, they keep those animals contained. Then we're looking at a community that's moving forward."
While euthanasia rates have decreased drastically since last year, the city's numbers are comparable to Wichita, KS - a city more than twice the size of Amarillo.
"That's very heartbreaking to me to see that our intake is getting up there, our euthanasia is pretty darn close to theirs," said Havens. "That's not good. That's nothing that we need to boast about. We need to work together. We need the citizens in our community to think about how their animals can get loose."
Havens and the city council said it's up to the community to really make a difference.
"We're not going to get rid of this concern, but we do need to manage it," said Mayor Paul Harpole. "We need civic responsibility by everyone in this town so we don't just turn out stray dogs or abandon animals that we've taken responsibility for as human beings."
The Animal Control Board is continuing to look into spay and neuter policies, and a trap-neuter-return (TNR) policy for ferrel cats.
Havens will make the first TNR presentation to the board at the end of the month.