Complaints about the county’s failure to pick up stray animals are increasing and a county official is pointing a finger at the city of San Antonio as the root cause.
Nicole Poore is one of those complaining. She captured an injured dog, called the county and was told to simply wait.
"I was horrified that this dog with a broken leg and no one was going to try to do anything to help him," Poore said. “Animals are suffering and they're just being dumped out in the county as usual.”
The KSAT 12 Defenders contacted Bexar County for an explanation and were referred to county engineer Renee Green.
Green said the county started its own Animal Control in October after paying the city of San Antonio's Animal Care Services to provide those services. She said the county did not want to start the new department but the contract from ACS left them no choice.
“The city's prices basically didn't drop but their level of service dropped way off,” Green said. "Their price was going from $950,000 a year where they did everything and we provided two officers to $800,000 with basically no service at all."
She said that meant the city would not do stray animal pickup, rabies enforcement or cruelty investigations.
The county opted to pay ACS $544,800 a year to just accept animals and spend $190,550 for picking up strays, rabies enforcement and cruelty investigations, $99,000 for three new officers and $91,550 for equipment for a total of $735,350.
Green said the start up of the department has been slowed because of personnel problems.
“We just basically got up and running on October 19,” Green said. “We've had some personnel issues and so we're making some changes but effectively we're trying to manage the program now with three animal control officers.”
But ACS Director Kathy Davis said the city did not force the county into the animal control business and was actually willing to cut $200,000 off of the $950,000 charged in the previous full service animal control contract.
“Well, roughly about $750,000 is what we were estimating it on,” Davis said. "I think there's a bit of a misunderstanding here."
She said it was the county that specifically requested a quote on minimal services.
"The county sat down and advised us that they did not want to pursue having us do the enforcement piece of the contract and that they wanted us to give them a price for only doing impoundments," Davis said.
She said the county is allowed by contract to deliver as many as 2,400 animals to ACS and that in the first four months of the contract the county has not come close to its monthly allowed average.
“For the first four months of this year that would have equaled 800 pets that they could have brought in and to date in that first four months they've only brought in 450,” Davis said. “They're down 350 pets that they could have brought in.”
That may be the reason for complaints from people like Tom Meyer. He said the county has given him the runaround a number of times in regard to stray animals.
“We are taxpayers out here,” Meyer said. “We're supposed to be taken care of and if you're not providing services to take care of us maybe you ought to let some of these other projects slide a little bit and put some money into hiring more officers or getting a contract for somebody to take care of these animals.”
Green said aggressive animals and bite cases take priority over strays and there is still a backlog on those calls. “We're getting better and we're moving forward, but again it's a work in progress,” Green said.
As for staffing, one officer is still recovering from an injury and a probationary employee was terminated.
Here is how many calls the county has received the last four months and how those calls were handled:
|Month||Calls||Cases Opened||Cases Closed||Sent to ACS|