SAN ANTONIO -

Residents living in the unincorporated areas of Bexar County are concerned that the changes coming to San Antonio’s Animal Care Services Department will make their ongoing problem with stray animals worse.

Starting Oct. 1, Animal Care Services will no longer provide animal control for unincorporated areas of Bexar County.

County officials said the change will actually be better for those residents.

“We are going to have three dedicated employees patrolling and picking up animals in unincorporated Bexar County, which we didn’t have before,” said Bexar County spokeswoman Laura Jesse.

Jesse said under its current agreement with the city, the county provided funding for four animal control officers in the city, but those officers didn’t have to be assigned to unincorporated parts of Bexar County.

Stray pickups and pet surrenders in those areas will now be handled by Bexar County Public Works, but the county will pay $544,000 to the city to house the animals at the department’s shelter.

The move will save the county more than $300,000.

“When it came to animal control, our Public Works director realized that we could provide more services, or the same level of services, that ACS has been providing in the past for the fraction of the cost,” Jesse said.

Angela Williams is wary of the changes, which go into effect Oct. 1.

“ACS has been coming out here, they’ve actually been picking up the animals,” she said. “If people are abandoning their pets again, are we going to have the same response time? Will I be able to go outside in the evening and say, ‘Oh, there goes a truck picking them up?’”

Residents also expressed concern that the Public Works employees wouldn’t be qualified, but Jesse said the county won’t allow that to happen.

“We're not taking somebody that performs street maintenance and turning them into an Animal Control officer,” Jesse said. “We are looking for people that are qualified to fill that role.”