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No-Kill Shelter Lifts Financial Burden Off Cities, Saves Animals’ Lives

Their ultimate goal is to find forever homes for animals. But a no-kill shelter in Killeen also eases financial costs of city-operated animal control departments by reducing euthanasia rates and freeing up kennel space.

The Texas Humane Heroes Adoption Center, at 5501 Clear Creek Road in Killeen, is a winner of the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge, capturing a cash prize of $40,000. From June to August, the no-kill shelter, which receives no government funding, found homes for 1,001 cats and dogs, 389 more than last year.

“Ninety-five percent of our animals come from municipal shelters and 65 percent of that comes from Bell County,” said Ron Maurollo, Texas Humane Heroes executive director. “When we merged with Central Texas Humane Society, we expanded our footprint because of the large number of strays. We save the animals from space-related killings.”

By removing the animals from the municipal shelters, Texas Humane Heroes not only frees up kennel space but also saves money for surrounding cities including Killeen, Harker Heights and Copperas Cove, which do not have to continue spending funds to house, feed and medically treat the animals or pay to have them euthanized.

The average cost of euthanasia at a local veterinary clinic is $100 to $150, although the city governments may contract a lower rate.

In 2012, Killeen impounded 4,543 animals with 1,576 adopted, which is a 35 percent adoption rate, according to the city. Killeen budgets $600,000 for animal control but does not publicly break out costs specifically for the shelter.

Harker Heights impounded 1,003 dogs and 583 cats last year, according to the city website. Sixty-nine percent of dogs and 67 percent of cats were adopted. Only 10 percent of dogs were euthanized and 29 percent of cats.

Dana Ingram, Heights animal control officer, said they try to keep the animals as long as possible based on space.

“Some have been here for two months. We really work hard contacting animal shelters and rescue groups all over the state,” she said. “We keep them as long as we can and do everything within our ability to find them good homes.”

The 2012 Copperas Cove animal control annual report reveals 1,257 dogs were impounded and 794 adopted or returned to owners for a rate of 63 percent. Additionally, 883 cats were impounded and 140 were adopted or returned to their owners; 276 dogs and 572 cats were euthanized, 141 at the request of owners.

The city’s 2012 annual report projected $227,200 spent on animal control in 2013. The proposed 2014 budget sets aside $271,975 and includes adding an additional control officer.

“We do not have a veterinarian who works (at animal control). So, we must get outside care for the animals when they get sick and need medication,” said David Wellington, Cove senior animal control officer. “Some of our animals have been here since April because we have the space.”

Maurollo said the $40,000 won by the no-kill shelter will not put it ahead of the costs incurred for the increased adoptions.

The center spends approximately $200 to ready an animal for adoption. This includes vaccinations, spaying or neutering and micro-chipping the animals. The center has recouped less than half of the cost for the animals adopted over the summer.

“We rely heavily on donations. Winning the contest brings credibility to our organization in the community and even nationally,” Marollo said.

“Be proud of us for winning and eliminating pet homelessness. But still contribute. We need the support.”