SAN ANTONIO - The City of San Antonio broke ground Wednesday on a new center for pet adoptions and spay-neuter surgeries.
The center is being applauded as a linchpin in the city's ongoing struggle to become "no-kill."
But not every animal lover is behind the project.
The groundbreaking on Tuleta Street across from the San Antonio Zoo was completed with city officials and community leaders wielding ceremonial golden shovels. The $5.4 million-center will house adoption areas for dogs and cats and spay-neuter surgery areas.
Mayor Julian Castro told the crowd the facility will aid in the city's quest to become no-kill.
"Last year, our live release rate was 31 percent,” Castro said. “This year, we're on track, so it will be 59 percent, almost a doubling of that rate."
The Petco company is donating $1 million for the new building. Castro thanked them for their generosity.
“They've also consistently shown that they have a big heart for animals and that they're on a mission to make sure that animal welfare is a top priority in every community,” Castro said.
When the facility was in the design phase, animal advocate Jan Suche suggested a cat building, which is now part of the plan.
“Cats need a separate building and they didn't have enough space allowed for cats in the adoption center,” Suche said.
She said the location will be key to its success.
"A central adoption center (is needed) for all the animals,” Suche said. “People don't want to go to West Jerusalem to adopt animals from the pound."
But not every animal advocacy group in San Antonio is in favor of the money being spent on this facility.
John Bachman of Voice for Animals said money should be spent on programs, not projects.
“That $5 million could have funded over 100,000 spay and neuters, preventing the birth of well over 250,000 animals,” Bachman said.
He is glad attention is being paid to pets, but said a multi-million dollar facility isn't the answer.
"There are facilities all over this city that are vacant that could be leased for tens of thousands (of dollars) a year," Bachman said.
The center should be open late next year.
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