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Early Thanksgiving at BARC

Thanksgiving came early for an organization most people probably don’t think of during the holidays. The Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control — or BARC — is the recipient of ten-thousand dollars worth of pet supplies this week. As Laurie Johnson reports — the donation signals an ongoing change in the way people think about BARC.


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Not too long ago, the idea of an organization dropping off literally thousands of dollars worth of supplies at BARC would have been unlikely.

But that’s exactly what happened when Natural Pawz, a local health food store for pets, pulled up with a 14-ft delivery truck full of food, cat litter, toys and blankets.

BARC General Manager David Atencio says donations used to go into the city’s general fund, but a recently created special fund now allows people to donate money and goods directly to BARC.

“When we get something like this of this significance, it’s a huge bonus or huge help for our fosters, our rescues and our partners. And those stakeholders have a huge part of our success and why we’re successful here at BARC now. You know we’ve cleaned it up dramatically over the last eight months to a year where disease is cut down dramatically, dogs and cats are cared for daily.”

Houston Councilmember Ed Gonzalez has been one of the main champions for BARC’s turnaround, bringing the issue forward at city hall time and time again. He says community support is especially critical right now because of the city’s tight budget.

“Any additional resources that we can get obviously are very helpful. We want to make sure that the experience here at BARC is a positive one. We have chickens, dogs, cats, kittens, puppies and you know it might just be a simple toy or blanket or something, it definitely improves the quality of the stay while they’re here. And you know that’s obviously important, making sure we’re being humane. And BARC has come a long way, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

Gonzalez says the department has greatly improved in keeping animals healthy and disease-free, as well as increasing the number of adoptions. But he’d still like to see more changes.

“We can’t be satisfied. We need to continue to push the envelope. And ideally I’d like to see where we could become a no-kill city at some point in the future. Obviously we’re far from that at this point, but I think we’re making strides. And I think we also need to continue to do the outreach to the community, because ultimately this is an issue of pet responsibility. We need to make sure that we’re having responsible pet owners that spay and neuter.”

Gonzalez says the easiest way to support BARC is to take care of your own pets and reduce the need for animal control.

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Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez

News Director

Laurie Johnson-Ramirez leads news coverage for Houston Public Media across broadcast and digital platforms. Ramirez is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Before becoming News Director, Ramirez held the position of Executive Producer for Daily News, leading daily and breaking news coverage, helping...

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