Is Lubbock's new Animal Shelter worth the price? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Is Lubbock's new Animal Shelter worth the price?

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

The new Lubbock City Animal Shelter opened on April 27, 2011.  After about one year in operation, KCBD Newschannel 11 investigated the euthanization and adoption rates, to see what changes have occurred since the new shelter. We requested official numbers from the city, to examine the differences. 

So, is it working?

Euthanization rates for cats remained at 76 percent and 66 percent for dogs from 2010 to 2011. The adoption rates for cats actually decreased 55 percent. 560 cats were adopted in 2010, while only 253 found new homes with the new shelter. The rate of cats coming into the shelter also increased in 2011. Dog adoptions decreased nearly 10 percent with the new shelter.

Councilman Todd Klein says this outcome is not good enough. "We want less of a kill rate and we're a high kill facility. It's unfortunate, but it's true. It's going to take more adoptions to make that happen." 

Klein said rates will change in due time. He says people are just now learning where the new shelter is.

KCBD Newschannel 11 also looked into the cost of the new shelter. The cost to build the new state of the art facility totaled $5.1 million, which included a private donation of $1 million. The remaining $4.1 million came from tax dollars.

After the new shelter opened, KCBD Newschannel 11 asked why the old facility is still in operation. 

Mayor Tom Martin said the old shelter was being used as an "isolation area for animals as they're picked up as strays to be able to be held and to make sure they don't spread diseases."  

Technology for the new building was designed to prevent the spread of disease and to keep animals healthy. 

Animal Services Director, George Torres said,  "we use a good product that contributes to killing about 11 different viruses it might cost a little bit more but it helps create more of a healthy safer environment."  

The Mayor says the technology was not enough to ward off illnesses that could be contracted from sick animals. "When you bring in an unknown animal into the general population, it can literally infect everything," Martin said. "It's best to keep those isolated, until we know they're okay and they're available for adoption and they can be moved in to the adoption center."

Records indicate that the existing operation costs increased from $1,473,406.16 in 2010 to $1,675,311.81 in 2011. 

Mayor Martin says the additional $201,905 was not to operate two separate shelters, but from health care costs for employees. KCBD Newschannel 11 found that "professional services" went from $3,500 in 2010 to $53,500 in 2011. The extra $50,000 was explained as additional costs for the operation of two shelters. 

Torres said the costs resulted from "our veterinarian that now she's having to cover two shelters."

Councilman Klein, who supported the new shelter in his 2007 campaign, said the city would eventually like to expand on the same 15 acre lot that the new shelter is located on and do away with the old shelter. The idea is to build a separate holding facility next to the new shelter, so that the sick animals would not infect the adoptable animals. Once animals are deemed healthy, they would then be taken to the adoption center. 

No word on what the expansion would cost. 

On Monday, KCBD Newschannel 11 will discuss solutions that are underway at the new shelter to increase adoption rates. 

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