Carren Bowden, director of the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center, hates using the word “euthanasia.”
But Bowden couldn’t be blamed for saying the word as representatives of the center and Brownwood Police Department held a joint press conference Friday. The purpose: to continue bringing awareness to the overcrowded status of the animal center and the need for the community’s help.
The center has about twice the number of animals for which it was designed, Bowden said.
“We’re an open intake facility, which means we’re don’t turn them down,” Bowden said. “We get quite a few animals, so we get really full real fast. The last few years, we’ve been really trying to reduce the rate of euthanasia.
“I really hate saying that word, because we don’t like to do it. We have made great strides in the last three years. Our percentage numbers will show that.”
Bowden, holding a small rat terrier mix who’s about a year old, was accompanied by Police Chief Terry Nichols, Lt. Troy Carroll, animal control officer Don Plate and Laurie Lindsey, who is vice president of the animal center’s board.
In honor of the Black Friday shopping day, the center is offering reduced adoption fees all of this coming week through Saturday, Bowden said.
Bowden, Nichols and Lindsey presented the numbers:
• The shelter can comfortable hold 70 to 75 dogs and 70 to 75 cats.
• The shelter currently has about 120 dogs and 77 cats.
• Over the summer, the animal population exceeded 300.
• Intake totals in 2008 were: 2,528 dogs and 1,883 cats; in 2015, 1,584 dogs and 1,753 cats; in 2017, 1,524 dogs and 920 cats; and in 2018 through mid-November, 1,460 dogs and 720 cats.
• In 2008, the percentage of animals with live outcomes was 34 percent for dogs and 9 percent for cats. In 2018, those numbers are up to 79 percent for dogs and 46 percent for cats.
• In 2008, 19 percent of dogs and 8 percent of cats were owner-surrendered. In 2018, the percentage is 38 percent of dogs and 29 percent for cats.
• In 2018 through Friday afternoon, the police department’s two animal control officers responded to 2,719 calls for service involving animal complaints.
A rescue shelter took 50 dogs from the center last month and another 30 this month, Bowden said. “So that helped tremendously,” she said. “Of course, we had other rescues that took other animals, but we still need help.”
Nichols said animal control officers try to reunite loose dogs with their owners before taking the animals to the center. The animal control officers respond to reports of about five dog bites a month, mostly from non-neutered males, Nichols said.
“We want to help work with the shelter and get this plight out to the community, as well as help everybody understand, this is not just a police department problem,” Nichols said. “It’s not just the center. This is a Brownwood community problem we’re trying to address.”
Since animal control officers bring in animals who can’t be reunited with their owners before being impounded, “we are part of their problem, as it were,” Nichols said. “We want to be part of the solution also, and bring awareness to the community that you’ve got to secure your pets.”
The center is doing a great job of reducing the euthanasia rate, Nichols said. “They don’t want it to go back up again,” he said. “But it’s getting to the point where there are so many animals out here, there’s going to be no other options. So we’re begging for the community’s help.”
Bowden said the center takes in animals from the entire county. To try to avoid euthanasia, the center seeks rescue shelters for animals that aren’t adopted from the center.
“We know that there’s such an over-population in Brownwood and Brown County, and we don’t have enough people that are adopters,” Bowden said. “Everybody’s got two or three pets already and they can’t take in two or three more.”
Lindsey took photos of a cat and a dog that will be featured on the Facebook pages of the center and the Friends of the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center.
The police department has been “big supporters” of the animal center, Lindsey said. “I think we all have the same heart for animals,” she said. “We want to make sure that they all get homes and rescues.
“ One way to help the shelter with the euthanasia rate is to reduce the number of animals coming in to the shelter. We have seen ann increase in owner-surrenders. If we could get people to spay and neuter their (pets), they won’t be bringing in these litters of puppies and kittens.”