San Antonio's animal welfare supporters came together Wednesday evening to talk about the city's efforts to achieve no-kill status.
The San Antonio Area Foundation played host to the third annual community conversation on the topic.
Mike Arms knows what it takes for a city to solve its pet population problems. As president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in San Diego, California he is credited with saving the lives of countless pets.
Arms was invited to speak to local animal welfare advocates to inspire them to help the city achieve no kill status, a goal that once seemed impossible but now appears to be within reach.
"The problem is just too big for one organization or one individual. It takes a community wide effort," Arms said. "I really find that San Antonio is different from a lot of other cities and are proving to be a truly humane city."
A big part of that success are the rescue groups that have partnered with the city to decrease the number of strays roaming city streets and increase adoptions.
Arms said a big challenge is convincing community members to purchase pets from the city shelter and other rescues instead of buying them from pet stores and dealers.
"People think there's something wrong with these pets that they wind up in these facilities but that's not true," Arms said. "There's something wrong with the people that had those pets that they couldn't honor their commitment so they relinquished them."
Gavin Nichols runs the San Antonio Area Foundation's no-kill initiative, he said recent numbers show the progress being made.
According to Nichols, nearly 22,000 animals have been rescued this year, compared to 8,800 in 2011.
"We achieved a 77 percent live release rate at Animal Care Services," Nichols said. "Now compare that to 2011, 2 years ago, they were at a 31 percent live release."
While the city has made significant progress in recent years, Nichols knows there is still a long way to go to achieve no kill status.
Nichols said more owners need to spay and neuter their pets and keep them from roaming the streets to keep the population down.
"It's an ongoing effort because once we achieve that no kill level of 90% live release, then you got to stay there," Nichols said. "You have to have people getting their pets neutered, and keeping their pets at home, and continuing to adopt and to not shop."