Day-after-day, our San Antonio Municipal Shelter (ACS) has been in what SAPA! defines as a Code Red situation. A Code Red means that 25 or more dogs and puppies are being released by ACS for possible euthanasia due to lack of space, and San Antonio Pets Alive! (SAPA!) has few or no spaces available to save animals on the release list. By law, stray animals get just a 48 hour hold in Texas to be claimed by an owner, adopted, fostered, or rescue tagged by an organization prior to being killed, but it is ACS’s policy to hold them for five days. Animals surrendered by their owners do not get a stray hold and become urgent upon intake at the shelter.
One of many of the high volume animal rescue organizations trying to help the dogs entering the municipal shelter is San Antonio Pets Alive!. With our limited space, staff, and resources, we plea out these urgent animals every morning, sometimes with just a few hours to secure a safe placement. Our team advocates for the animals to other organizations across the US and Canada, along with our own network of dedicated fosters and volunteers. We are on the ground at ACS seven days per week from 9 am until 7 pm. We employ nine individuals to work at Building One, and San Antonio Pets Alive! pays their salaries and benefits.
The Building One Rescue Center transition kennels GIVE EACH OF THESE ANIMALS MORE TIME TO FIND PLACEMENT, and without SAPA!, they would already be dead. SAPA! is the last chance rescue in San Antonio pulling dogs that are often overlooked by other organizations. Sadly, at this rate, it is impossible to save every dog, when more and more come in every day…that also need to be saved.
When SAPA! is not able to successfully find a safe place for the dog with a foster, rescue, or adopter, the difficult decision must be made whether to return the dog to ACS. While these dogs are waiting for miracles in the transition kennels, they are not actually “owned” by San Antonio Pets Alive! and are not completely “safe” until they have a confirmed outcome and leave the premises. We can only provide this temporary refuge with the help of the community (fosters, adopters, and rescue partners), who free up kennel space and allow more to be saved in their place. ACS releases dogs to euthanasia daily, and we give as many dogs as possible a longer window to be saved by having them in our open transition kennels. Without help from the community to save transition kennel dogs, our limited kennel space remains full and we return the dogs to ACS to give other at-risk dogs the same extension of time and opportunity to be saved. Our placement team highlights the dogs that are returning to ACS as a final plea for help, these are called the Last Chance Dogs!
On top of pleading out these precious pets, we take them into our care – right now, there are 782 SAPA! dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens in our custody. SAPA! has more than 80 dogs and cats residing at our Medical Care Center. They are either being treated for illnesses such as parvovirus, distemper, heartworms, and ringworm, recovering from illnesses or surgeries, or waiting for a foster or adopter.
There are 17 puppies in the Parvovirus Ward and sadly, we don't have space for more. SAPA!’s medical team is skilled in treating this awful disease. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for distemper. There are seven families of moms and puppies right now, with some residing in our makeshift Mom and Pups ward at our Medical Care Center. It’s far from ideal and we are doing our best.
It has been a VERY tough year so far and we are grateful for the support of our community, as we are all trying to do the right thing.
Please, help us help them, and spread the word…that adopting or fostering a dog or a cat saves two lives – your new fur baby and their empty kennel space to save another.
Rebecca Mayberry, Executive Director
San Antonio Pets Alive!