City Manager May Walk Away from ‘No Kill’ Animal Shelter Policy

SAN ANGELO, TX — City of San Angelo Manager Daniel Valenzuela addressed the ongoing crisis at the animal shelter this week. He has proposed walking away from the “No Kill” shelter process that was in place up and until the crisis this month. There are too many animals at the shelter.

In an exclusive interview, Valenzuela said that the number of animals needed to be housed at the city facility greatly increased during and immediately following the shutdowns of the pandemic. Without the policy to euthanize animals, the numbers of animal increased to unmanageable levels. He does not blame the staff at the shelter that has been led by Morgan Chegwidden since 2017.

“‘No Kill’ is an effort that Morgan took on. It was a good-hearted effort on her part,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela said euthanizing the unwanted dogs and cats is not his first option. However, he stated five main points about the City’s role as the maintainer of the area’s only animal shelter.

Health and safety of the City of San Angelo community is paramount and the reason the city is in the animal shelter business to begin with, the city manager said. “They may have rabies, they may attack someone, or they may spread some other diseases. So, we’re concerned about that,” Valenzuela said.

Euthanasia is not the first option if there is a viable alternative. Valenzuela pleaded with the community to practice responsible pet ownership. He also said City staff is currently working with non-profits in the pet adoption space, such as Cassie’s Place and Concho Valley PAWS.

Jenie Wilson of PAWs told us this week that she believes the city can spay and neuter its way out of this without having to kill dogs and cats. Valenzuela may be skeptical, however. He cited a PETA shelter strategy that opposes the ‘No Kill’ movement titled, “Socially Conscious Animal Sheltering: A Humane, Responsible Approach.” The PETA call was endorsed in 2019 by the Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). The CVMA endorsement states that, "The no-kill movement increases animal suffering and threatens public health with unintended consequences…” In particular, Valenzuela said, there of animals the shelter will encounter that are un-adoptable. “‘No Kill’ is likely not feasible and not humane,” Valenzuela said.

Valenzuela acknowledged the photos of the shelter that were leaked on social media last week. He said while the photos do not paint a good picture, the photos also should be viewed in context. According to the city manager, the shelter in under-funded for the amount of animals it is currently intaking. He said the shelter staff is working diligently and continuously cleaning. However, once one area is cleaned and the staff moves on to clean the next area, it takes little time for the once cleaned area to look bad. The animals do not stop defecating and urinating just because the stall was just cleaned, he said.

Responsible pet ownership is needed to reduce the number of animals at the shelter. Valenzuela said the number of pets abandoned inside the city limits has greatly increased over the past year.

Animal rescue groups must work together, he said. The clock is ticking for finding alternative solutions for attracting more pet adoptions. He said he encourages collaboration and working with his shelter staff to help alleviate the overcrowding of the shelter.

Valenzuela reiterated his points at the Sept. 22, 2022 City Council meeting. Watch his statement above.

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