What One Group Does To Solve Houston’s Homeless Pet Problem

Houston has an overabundance of stray animals — many of whom are euthanized if no homes can be found for them. To solve that problem, a Houston-based organization is transporting homeless pets to places where there's high demand for them.


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The city estimates that there are between 800,000 and 1.2 million stray animals in Houston. BARC, the city’s animal shelter, takes in about 25,000 a year.

Chris Newport with BARC says unfortunately there are not enough adoptions to save many of those animals from being put down.

“We’ve got demands on us coming from pretty much 624 square miles of the city — be it for animal control response and dogs coming in on trucks or people not caring for their animals anymore and just turning them in eight at a time. So euthanasia is an unfortunate reality.”

But a new partnership with a pet rescue organization is putting a dent into the number of euthanizations in Houston. Since BARC partnered up with Rescued Pets Movement in September, the organization has transported about 400 BARC animals to Colorado.

Cindy Perini is the president and co-founder of RPM. She says she first heard that Colorado needed pets when she was volunteering for a shelter in New Mexico five years ago.

“The word was, Colorado needs dogs. So I started researching it, started building connections, and within a couple of months that shelter’s euthanasia rate just plummeted. We were sending lots and lots of dogs and puppies to Colorado.”

The preliminary goal is to send about 50 cats and dogs from Houston to Colorado each week. That’s more than 200 a month and 2,600 a year — about 10 percent of the animals BARC takes in every year.

Chris Newport says the shelter’s live release rate is currently about 54 percent. That’s the number of animals that BARC adopts out, returns to owners or gives to rescue groups.

“If you take 10 percent of the animals that come in out of that equation, our live release rate starts looking at 70 percent, 80 percent on an annual basis, provided that we can get the support that we need to fund this on an ongoing basis. That’s huge.”

And that number could grow even more. Cindy Perini says she’s gotten requests for dogs from places all over the country.

“There was a pit bull mom and puppies here that was scheduled to be euthanized. I circulated them around and we had offers everywhere. Washington state, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Connecticut, New Jersey, you name it. I mean, people were like, ‘How can I help? I mean, we’ll take puppies, we’ll drive part-way. What can we do?’”

Now all the group needs is more donations to ship animals across the country.

If you want to help, here is how.