It’s a decision that Amy Abernathy, animal service manager at Corinne T. Smith Animal Center, wishes she never had to make, but at times, it’s an everyday decision.
“It’s never a simple decision, but I ultimately have to decide which animals have to be put down, ” Abernathy said. “If everyone would get their animals fixed, we could be a no-kill shelter.”
In peak breeding seasons, CTSAC receives anywhere from 50-75 animals a day to its already packed facilities. The ideal capacity for the center is 70 cats and 175 dogs, and that is based on housing them comfortably. Currently, the center is housing 131 cats and 213 dogs.
“Each time we get litters, we always ask where the mom is and to try to get her fixed,” Abernathy said. “For the most part, people will do so.”
According to CTSAC administrative manager Freda Day, the center operates on a yearly budget of $185,000 with contributions from the City of Brownwood ($41,000), Brown County ($6,500) and the City of Early ($2,000). The remaining $135,500 of the budget comes from grants and contributions.
“Our operational costs break down to $500 a day,” Day said. “And that includes staff salaries, utilities, rent, vet bills, vaccinations and more.”
Each animal CTSAC processes is vaccinated and de-wormed before it is placed in a kennel. When the animals have been selected for adoption, they are micro-chipped and spayed or neutered.
“We wait until the animals are in the adoption process to fix them for two reasons,” Abernathy said. “Illness and cost — getting fixed can cause a drop in their immunity and by waiting until they are in the adoption process saves us money in the long run.”
While the adoption fees for the animals may seem high to some residents, the fees hardly cover the preparations for each animal. The regular adoption fee for a cat is $50 and for dogs is $150. Including all the vaccines, micro chipping, tests and spay/neutering, the estimated cost is $85 for cats while the cost for dogs can vary by size. A small dog will cost around $125 while a 90-pound dog — like a boxer — will cost around $200.
“At times, to help move an animal, we will drop their adoption fee if they have been here a long time,” Abernathy said. “If the animals aren’t adopted, then we have to euthanize them. But while they are here, we love them like they are ours.”
Kitty Palooza, CTSAC’s current adoption promotion, is a prime example of the center’s effort to deal with the overcrowding issues they face on a daily basis. During this promotion, the adoption fee for all of the cats has been reduced to $10. The promotion will end at 5 p.m. today.
“Being at maximum capacity is a daily occurrence,” Day said. “So far, Kitty Palooza has found forever homes for 40 cats.”
Along with the adoption promotions, CTSAC has used its Facebook page as another outlet to highlight animals needing to find homes soon, and often “soon” means the end of their stay at the center.
“We have people that bash us on Facebook or come in and say don’t kill this animal,” Day said. “They think its up to us — and it’s not. It’s up to the community. If we had our way, we wouldn’t put down another animal.”
To view the animals available for adoption or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call Corinne T. Smith Animal Center at (325) 646-0617, visit the center at 3016 Milam Drive or go online at www.ctsanimalcenter.org. The animal center is open 1-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday.