City investigates San Antonio Pets Alive cat rescue

Complaints of cats dying, shelter disorganization lodged

Author: Brian Mylar, Reporter,
Published On: Sep 18 2012 06:36:46 PM CDT   Updated On: Sep 18 2012 10:00:35 PM CDT

The city of San Antonio is now investigating allegations that San Antonio Pets Alive is in chaos and that cats are dying because of it.

SAPA contracts with the city to adopt out some of the thousands of animals that arrive at Animal Care Services.

The KSAT 12 Defenders brought these allegations forward in July.

Animal advocate Shari Pearson shot video inside SAPA’s rescue site on Marbach Road more than two months ago. Some of her video showed disturbing images of suffering kittens. She complained at the time that SAPA was poorly run and that animals were suffering because of it.

"It appeared that some of them had starved to death and we would actually find dead kittens," Pearson said.

Emails and internet posts suggested SAPA was desperate for volunteers and supplies and that medications and volunteers were disorganized.

Earlier this year, Darla Evans and her daughter said they quit volunteering at SAPA after what they saw.

"They had several kittens dying daily," Evans said.

The city has now acknowledged those complaints and is investigating those allegations. The city pays SAPA $200,000 a year in tax money to adopt out animals.

Veterinarian Dr. Ellen Jefferson runs SAPA and said the organization does its best.

"You know there's nothing that's going to be perfect but we're trying," Jefferson said.

Jefferson also said she is not surprised at the sniping by other animal advocates.

"The animal welfare organizations in general, they don't always have the best history of working together," Jefferson said.

She said SAPA has taken in more animals than required by contract and is not the picture of chaos.

"I think that there's people who want to paint that picture, but no, I don't think that's the real picture,” Jefferson said. “I think the real picture is we've saved almost 5,000 lives."

She did confirm she has been fined $500 on two separate occasions for not showing proof of continuing veterinary education to the state but said her license never lapsed.

Jefferson said despite what people have seen or said, the organization is successful at saving animals that would be euthanized.

The city declined to comment about the allegations against SAPA until its investigation is complete. They gave no timetable for that to happen.