KCBD Investigates: More than 20 animals a day euthanized at Lubbock Animal Shelter
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The KCBD Investigates Team has learned over the past two years, the Lubbock Animal Shelter has euthanized more than 16,000 animals; that's more than 20 animals every day.
"We are overpopulated with what we've got now as far as the strays we are picking up, and then just adding to that problem by bringing in owner surrender animals to the shelter as well," said Lubbock Animal Shelter Director, George Torres.
The KCBD Investigates team requested data from the Lubbock Animal Shelter for 2016 and 2017.
According to those documents, last year, the shelter received more than 9,300 animals and euthanized nearly 94% of them.
In 2016, the shelter took in more than 9,800 animals and euthanized nearly 75% of them.
The KCBD Investigates Team also requested data from other cities of similar size.
Last year, the shelter in Amarillo euthanized nearly 33% of the roughly 12,400 animals it received.
Plano euthanized 12% of its 5,400 dogs and cats.
Irving took in just more than 5,300 animals and euthanized 13% of them.
Garland received more than 7,000 animals and euthanized 22% of them.
While the majority of the animals the Lubbock Animal Shelter receives are strays, the second highest intake number comes from owner surrenders.
"My staff does not like that I put this sign out here," said Torres as he pointed to a large sign near the "receiving" door. "It says it's not a no-kill shelter. Owner surrendered animals are the first to be euthanized when the shelter runs out of space, but still, our numbers for owner surrenders are still pretty high."
Last year alone, people turned over 4,700 of their pets to the animal shelter; a place Torres said should be a last resort.
"We try to encourage people to try to find a rescue group, try to re-home their animals before bringing them to the shelter," Torres said.
The shelter does work with rescue groups like Dusty Puddles Dachshund Rescue to give strays a better chance of finding a forever home.
Cheryl Drewry said she moved to Lubbock nine years ago with the intention of opening a Dachshund rescue.
Drewry said she first started rescuing dogs just before she moved to Lubbock.
At that time, she was living in Stephenville and said she has noticed higher numbers of abandoned dogs in college towns.
"When semesters go out, they can't take their dog home, they just dump it," Drewry said. "People dump their dogs. They don't want to go find them, they don't want the responsibility, and you can fine them until kingdom come, but if they don't want that dog, they are not going to come get it."
Which is why she is always at the shelter, looking for dogs to rescue.
"The biggest thing is the seniors that breaks my heart. They are 10, 12 years old, been with a family their whole life, and then all of the sudden they are not wanted anymore," Drewry said.
At the Lubbock Animal Shelter, stray dogs and cats with no identification are kept for three business days.
Animals with a microchip or collar are kept for 10 business days.
When that time period is up, the administration at the shelter determines if the animal is adoptable. If it is not, it is euthanized.
Drewry found a Dachshund mix-breed at the shelter whose 72 hours were up.
The dog looked healthy, but even if it was not, Drewry said she would still take it to her rescue.
"I don't mind an injured one. If I can heal it and take it, it's going to find a home," Drewry said.
Drewry said she has no doubt the dog, who she has named Daisy, will quickly find a home.
While Daisy's kennel is now empty, there are still dozens of others at capacity.
In 2017, the Lubbock Animal Shelter spent more than $46,000 on medication for animals.
That same year, it also spent more than $7,000 on Sodium Pentobarbital for use in humane euthanization.
Torres said animals that are euthanized are taken to the landfill.
Shelter administration said it is the most time and cost effective option they have.
If they incinerated the animals, the Environmental Protection Agency requires them to weigh the animal before incineration and then weigh the ashes afterward.
The shelter said it takes an average of eight to 10 hours to incinerate the animals and the incinerator is still located at its old location.
Administration said the old incinerator is inoperable and would require more than $35,000 to repair the door and an additional $1,000 to purchase a scale.
That incinerator was installed when the old shelter was constructed 10 to 15 years ago.
The cost of a new incinerator is approximately $150,000 to $200,000.
After concerns from residents about the shelter disposing euthanized animals in the landfill, the city did some research to find out how other cities dispose of deceased animals.
Midland cremates their deceased animals while Odessa and Plainview use a landfill.
The shelter already has a Facebook page and Torres said they are working to create an Instagram account.
He said they are also working to simplify their volunteer process and host more adoption events.
Right now, volunteers are required to take a drug test, but Torres said they may do away with that.
Torres said they are also going to host more adoption events and advertise those online.
When it comes to the high intake number, Torres said the community needs to spay and neuter their pets, and make sure they have identification.
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