By Ruben G. Betancourt
Pulse Staff Reporter
Stray animals roam the South Side’s streets and could become a safety hazard to the community. With the increase of unplanned pregnancies in dogs and cats, homeless animals will surge.
“There has definitely been an increase in stray animals throughout the years, at least in my neighborhood,” said Adrian Gonzales, a longtime resident of the South Side and former Palo Alto College student.
Gonzales lives off of Gillette Boulevard, which is only three minutes from PAC. Students also see stray dogs and cats roam the campus’ grounds.
PAC houses a Veterinary Technology program, which offers an Associate of Applied Science degree designed to prepare students to work as Licensed Veterinary Technicians. Kristie McCann, a PAC Veterinary Technology Program Academic Program specialist, mentioned that they have noticed homeless animals near the campus, but they cannot provide any services or care for these animals.
“We cannot take in stray animals…we do not have the facilities to do so. We only have room for the current 12 dogs and 12 cats we adopt from a local animal control facility. Plus (strays) can potentially bring in disease to our housed animals,” said McCann.
The City of San Antonio’s Animal Care Services is responsible for monitoring and providing animal control for the entire city. ACS is the largest municipal shelter in South Texas. Its main location is located at 4710 Interstate Highway 151. It is a 14-acre facility with programs and services that encourage responsible pet ownership and compliance with city laws.
Danny Gonzalez, management analyst with the City of San Antonio’s ACS, said that last year in District 4, which includes the South Side, 4,057 animals were impounded. In this current fiscal year, which began on October 1, 2016, through the present, approximately 2,320 animals have already been taken off of South Side streets.
ACS encourages residents to contact Citizen Call-for-Service through the City’s 3-1-1 Customer Service line or submit an Online Service Request for any animal-related concerns, including homeless animals. ACS advises being cautious near a stray animal for your own safety.
The ACS would like the community to know that each individual can make a difference in helping to decrease the number of homeless animals on the South Side. Residents should keep their pets on their property, spay/neuter, vaccinate and microchip. Adopting the strays that have been picked up is also encouraged.
“Spay and neutering their pets is the biggest thing anyone can do to reduce the number of strays in San Antonio,” said Brad Wright, Marketing and Public Relations manager for the Animal Defense League of Texas.
ACS offers spay and neutering services at low-cost rates and even free for some San Antonio residents. For more information on these services, visit Animal Care Services.
Ryann Rivera, a Palo Alto College freshman Cosmetology major, has also noticed an increase in homeless animals within the last three years. She has welcomed docile stray animals into her family and believes she is making a difference.
“Don’t be violent to them. Whether they’re bothering you because they’re hungry…don’t be ugly to them, because more than likely, they feel neglected,” said Rivera.
Next time you come across a homeless animal, be cautious and contact ACS immediately. Everyone in the community can contribute to reducing the number of strays on the South Side. You may also provide a service for these homeless animals, giving them a permanent home and a loving family.
For more information, call ACS at (210) 207-4738.