Regardless of whether you’re a dog person, a cat person or even someone who just isn’t that into pets, the statistics from Kurth Memorial Animal Shelter are beyond sobering.
■ In 2018, the facility received 4,590 animals — 45.4% of which were from Lufkin and 57% of which were euthanized.
■ In September of that year, animals were euthanized every day to make space for another one in need. Of the 475 animals brought in from all over the county that month, 70% — that’s 333 dogs, puppies, cats, kittens and other animals — were euthanized, translating to around 11 animals per day put down to make space for the ever-increasing flow finding their way to the shelter.
■ From the start of October last fall to the end of last month, 903 potential pets were put down purely due to lack of space or the length of time they were there.
The shelter is doing what it can. The numbers of animals euthanized has decreased since 2007, when 88% of the animals it took in were put down, while the number being brought in has also declined.
In the last 10 years, the shelter has ramped up the number of rescues it works with regularly, began social media campaigns to keep the animals in the spotlight and connected with local animal advocates for support. The facility — which has to be able to implement change countywide, not just in the city — is also working with officials to make or change city ordinances to improve the way animal control works with animals and their owners.
With the ultimate goal of someday becoming a no-kill shelter, Kurth and the city are considering requiring citizens to spay and neuter their pets and possibly requiring them to be registered with a chip. Discussion is also ongoing — with varying opinion — regarding Trap-Neuter-Release programs to slowly reduce feral cat populations over time. (We’re all for them, by the way.)
So what can you do to help? There’s no shortage of opportunities, but perhaps the best place to start is by sending a request to join the Facebook group “Kurth Animal Shelter Advocates.” There you can join the conversation, offer suggestions and learn about various ways to support our furry friends.
If you have money to spare, by all means, any donation amount is welcome. The shelter is looking for a way to make it easier to make a secure donation online, but one idea being floated in the group is for the city to have an option added to our water bills, as they do for Angelina Beautiful/Clean, in which citizens have an option of adding a $1 donation to go toward the shelter when they pay.
As pointed out by one of the advocates in the group, if 35,000 people gave 5 cents per month, that would be $1,750 for the shelter. Or if just 1,750 gave $1 a month, that would translate to the same amount. Multiplied over the course of one year, either scenario would result in an additional $21,000 for the shelter. Can you imagine how much it might raise through the voluntary donation option on water bills? We can’t urge the city to set this in motion fast enough.
Offering outreach to educate school age kids on helping shelter/rescue animals and stressing the importance of spay/neuter to them at a young age is another way citizens can help. And anything from attending meetings to actively fostering animals can go a long way toward helping these animals’ voices be heard.
As always, bleach, laundry detergent, dog and cat treats, dog and cat food, paper towels, Clorox wipes, small throw blankets, towels, dog shampoo, dog and cat toys, liquid dish soap and newspaper are constant shelter needs, as are more volunteers to play with and socialize animals, walk and bathe dogs, or help prep for and work at adoption events.
But there are two main things you can do to prevent next month from going down like the last, in which 332 animals were euthanized compared to just 71 adopted: Get down there and adopt one and/or get your current pets somewhere — anywhere! — to have them spayed/neutered. Too many innocent lives depend on it.