With many local animal shelters still over capacity, advocates from 16 local animal welfare and municipal organizations have announced the formation of the Gulf Coast Animal Welfare Alliance. According to organizers, the goal of the coalition is to provide a more coordinated approach to animal welfare in the Houston area.
During the announcement at Danny Jackson Family Bark Park in southwest Houston, the coalition outlined plans to begin community-specific education and advocacy programming this August across 13 counties: Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Colorado, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Walker, Waller and Wharton.
Houston has ranked first in the nation for dog attacks on postal workers for three consecutive years. Meanwhile, the total number of animals in regional shelters and on the streets would overflow NRG stadium.
Becky Best, director of the new alliance, attributes much of the problem to a lack of a streamlined system for animal welfare action, education and advocacy in the region.
“There hasn’t been a lot of collaboration in the animal welfare industry, and again, we haven’t, as a community, prioritized this issue properly," said Best. "We really want to raise awareness and show how it impacts many areas of life that people really do care about."
Best said the initiative is intended to not only better serve the region’s animals but also to improve public health and quality of life, particularly in marginalized communities.
“The underserved areas are the ones that really feel the weight of this," said Best. "They feel it when they can’t get to the bus to go to work or when they can’t go outside to play with their children.”
Best said the organization’s taskforces will be turning to the communities they serve in the coming weeks to identify their most pressing needs and formulate education and advocacy efforts accordingly.
Best urges local residents to spay and neuter their pets as well as consider fostering animals up for adoption so that local shelters are able to accommodate more strays.
More information about the Gulf Coast Animal Welfare Alliance and a list of member organizations can be found here.