ROSENBERG, Texas – At the Fort Bend County Animal Shelter, an animal brought in off the streets can be euthanized in three days. The shelter has so many animals, they get numbers instead of names.
It sounds bleak, but it’s not a place without hope or people wanting to make a difference.
Take shelter director Rene Vasquez, who’s been working to make a difference since he was hired two years ago.
“We’ve started all kinds of new programs. We hired an adoption coordinator. We got several (non-profits) between us and the volunteers,” Vasquez said. “It’s evolved to great things.”
Since 2012, Fort Bend County has nearly doubled its budget for animal services, meaning more animals are finding homes. County records show in 2012, about 20 percent of impounded animals were rescued or adopted. In 2016, that number jumped to 62 percent.
Vasquez knows he and the shelter’s staff can’t do it alone, which is why the shelter seeks outside help.
Saving Our Companion Animas (SOCA) is one of the pivotal non-profits working with the shelter.
“There were so many (animals) that weren’t finding a home; there were so many that were just discarded,” said Rita Garretson with SOCA. “It broke my heart.”
SOCA signed on with the shelter to find foster families to take in dogs and cats. More help came last year when Camo Rescued stepped in, helping focus on getting sick and injured animals receive veterinary care.
“Any time an injured dog comes into the shelter, they email (us), we get an appointment at the vet, and we send them off,” said Stephanie Ayers with Camo Rescue. “Since December, we have sent off about 60 dogs and raised more than $12,500.”
Social media has also played a big role.
Volunteer Frank Corbin photographs and posts pictures of the animals to show off their true personalities outside their kennels.
“Having nice pictures of them and showing them looking happy or doing active things encourages people to get interested in that dog,” Corbin said.
Shelter cats have help, too. Shannon Massa takes pictures and finds foster homes for the felines.
“(My husband) calls me the cat lady,” Massa said with a laugh. “But you know he loves animals, too. So he’s proud of everything we do.”
So is community involvement coordinator Barbara Vass, who’s hoping all the hard work will continue to increase the county’s live-release rate.
“Our numbers right now are fairly impressive to where we were,” Vass said. “But we’re not happy with where they are—the ultimate goal being 90 percent.”
It’s a huge goal for a county shelter that opens its doors to all animals in need of help.