The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students, staff adopt dogs, discuss no-kill issues

Students, staff adopt dogs, discuss no-kill issues

A group of animals found new homes from a TR Campus pet adoption as Fort Worth citizens debate the larger issue of whether to euthanize animals.

Fort Worth Animal Care and Control held the pet adoption April 5. In all, 11 animals found new homes. One dog went home with student Yvonne Portales.

“I’m very attached to dogs, so I figured they need homes, and they’re eventually going to get put to sleep,” she said. “I could save one life.”

Photo courtesy Beverly Davis

TR financial aid associate Isavel Ojeda adopted Paco because he reminded her of a Chihuahua her family had for almost 12 years.

“He’s a year and a half. He’s vaccinated, he is neutered and he’s microchipped,” she said.

According to the city of Fort Worth, 5,620 dogs and cats were taken into a shelter from October 2010 to February 2011. The save rate for dogs during that time period was 47 percent, making the kill rate 53 percent. For cats, the save rate was 30 percent. Between the two, 3,217 cats and dogs were euthanized during that time period.

“The decision to end an animal’s life is an extremely serious one, and should always be treated as such,” according to nokilladvocacycenter.org.

Recently, more than 4,500 residents signed a petition on change.org supporting H.B. 3450, the Texas Animal Companion Protection Act. According to the no-kill petition about Fort Worth’s Chuck Silcox Animal Care and Control Center on change.org, thousands of animals are being euthanized every year because of the lack of space and resources.

“We’ve been adopting a few and killing the rest for so many decades,” said Suzette Watkins, owner of Riverside Kennel in Fort Worth and founder of No-Kill Fort Worth. “It seems that [with] the actions in Fort Worth city government, we [society] don’t really value our animals as companion animals. We haven’t made that shift yet.”

Watkins, who also does rescue work, believes in the no-kill plan. But she said for the plan to work, the community has to get involved. The city shelter has to completely open its doors and allow community members to help in any way they can, Watkins said.

“I think a big point is the misunderstanding of what no-kill means,” she said. “No-kill and our definition, what we’re talking about, is saving at least 90 percent of the animals that come through your door. It doesn’t mean not killing one single animal. It means that the true definition of euthanasia is relieving an animal from an untreatable illness or injury or condition. That’s what it is, and we need to get to that.”

The no-kill plan works off the no-kill equation with 11 programs and services including feral cat TNR program; high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter; rescue groups; foster care; comprehensive adoption programs; pet retention; medical and behavioral rehabilitation; public relations and community involvement; volunteers; proactive redemptions; and a compassionate shelter director.

“It’s really just up to the city council to require their shelter managers to implement the no-kill equation,” she said. “They’re not about to do that until we start packing the city council chambers at city council meetings.”

Since Watkins started No-Kill Fort Worth and began to keep up with the animal intake numbers per year, the highest intake of animals has been around 18,000 with the shelter euthanizing about 50 percent of those animals not considered “adoptable.”

“You can’t let a dog come in that’s been in a fight, and you can’t let it lay there for three or four days covered in maggots, flies and roaches,” she said. “You can’t do that.”

With taxpayers’ money, Watkins said the shelter can completely care for an animal and send it to one of the adoption centers located in PetSmart to place it in a home.

“For the past couple months, our save rate has been around 65 percent,” she said. “So if that continues through the entire year, that will be a great improvement.”

Watkins provides ways community members can help these animals.

“Attend city council meetings, keep up with the Facebook No-Kill Fort Worth page, email the mayor and city council members, volunteer at the shelter,” she said.

Austin Pets Alive’s Positive Alternatives to Shelter Surrender program sets up a tent outside the shelter and talks to people who bring their pets to the shelter.

“They’ve been able to make a difference in 25 percent of the surrenders and turn them around,” she said. “It’s been proven you can just help people with their situation, whether it be can’t afford dog food or can’t afford vets or just a little bit of education on whatever issue they’re having.”

Lisa Benedetti, NE communication arts department chair and a former foster parent for Dallas/Fort Worth Cocker Spaniel Rescue, now volunteers along with her 7-year-old son for the North Texas Humane Society in Keller.

“We do laundry, clean up cages, take the dogs out, play with the cats, the occasional bunny or guinea pig,” she said. “That’s been a very rewarding experience because I think that you have to, you need to, take care of the animals and also that we need to teach our children to do that too.”

Benedetti said many animals from the Humane Society, where she volunteers, have been pulled from the city of Fort Worth’s shelter.

“I think people should adopt from shelters. They should go to PetSmart when they’re looking for an animal,” she said. “They need a second chance at life and finding — we always call it in the rescue group — they [the animals] need to find their forever home.”

Frankie Ward, former TCC student and current SE student development coordinator, adopted her 6-year-old dog from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

“I love animals first of all, and if I can help, I’ll help,” she said.

Ward adopted her dog six years ago when Pupi was a year old.

“They [SPCA] were very nice, very helpful. They tell you history about certain dogs,” she said. “Like my dog, his name Pupi comes from he has gas. He always has gas. That’s actually the name SPCA gave him.”

Ward loves animals and is against the euthanization of animals unless it is done to relieve them from suffering an untreatable illness.

“I like the movement no-kill,” she said. “I don’t think anybody should be cruel to animals.”

She said she decided to get a dog because she felt lonely and needed a friend.

“Now that I have a 3-year-old, that’s her play friend. They go to sleep together, they eat together, they play together,” she said. “He’s basically a family dog.”

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