A KSAT 12 Defenders investigation found that some animal rescue agencies that partner with the city’s Animal Care Services department get close to $40 per animal they take from the city.

San Antonio Pets Alive is one of nine rescue groups that is paid to help ACS adopt out pets. The city gave the group $200,000 last year.

The Humane Society got another $95,350 and seven other groups collected a total of $45,050.

In terms of the cost to taxpayers per animal, the Humane Society took 2,407 pets at a cost to the city of nearly $39.61 each.

San Antonio Pets Alive took 5,533 pets at a cost of $36.14 each. Smaller groups had much lower costs.

Missy's Haven took 325 animals and received $5,000 from the city making the cost per animal $15.38.

CARE -- Cressie Animal Refuge and Enrichment -- took 322 pets from the city in Fiscal Year 2013 and took $2,750 in city money, making the cost to the city per pet of just $8.54.

ACS Director Kathy Davis said the money spent on these organizations is worth it.

"We know that there's an expense involved with obviously doing the right thing and getting our pets into great places," Davis said. “More than 70 rescue groups came to us last year and took pets from our care and placed them in their organization and got them into great places.”

She said the cost is one the city as a whole has chosen to bear to save the lives of animals.

Davis has been criticized for not doing more to increase adoptions from the city's Brooks City Base facility.

One unidentified speaker at a meeting about Brooks called it "the worst hell of a prison a dog could live in."

Another speaker said "the Brooks dogs have been unseen, unheard and unaccounted for."

Davis said the new animal care and adoption facility near the zoo alleviates to some degree the need for Brooks and allows the city to increase its adoptions.

But she said despite its addition, rescue partners will still be needed.

Davis said figures actually show it is less expensive for San Antonio taxpayers to pay rescue partners to adopt out pets than for ACS to do it.

"It's costing taxpayers about $330 apiece for the animals that we take in and care for," Davis said.

Rescue partners fund their own veterinary and other costs.

Davis said it costs money, but San Antonio is moving toward no-kill.

"All of those numbers including our rescue numbers got us to 22,000 live releases last year," Davis said. “We certainly believe and look at this as a community problem, not a problem that one small department can help solve.”

More spay/neuter is the next piece of the puzzle, Davis said.

In addition, she stressed that the money San Antonio takes in from animals adopted out or returned to their owners exceeded the amount paid to rescue partners.

Partners such as San Antonio Pets Alive and the Humane Society both report over a 90 percent live release rate for the animals they take from the city.

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