ACS reports rising 'live release' rates, falling kill rates

Activists criticize ACS reports


SAN ANTONIO – No one wants to see dogs and cats killed because no one wants them and there's no place to put them.

San Antonio has been working toward a "no-kill" animal shelter for years and now Animal Care Services is reporting progress.

But a community animal advocate is urging the public to beware of what ACS is claiming.

The agency is basing its progress on increases to the "Live Release Rate" of animals that come into the shelter. If an animal is adopted out or picked up by its owner, that animal is considered a live release. Those that are not released alive are euthanized.

Over the past year, ACS said the Live Release Rate has been improving:

  • The third quarter of last year averaged a 34 percent percent Live Release Rate.
  • The fourth quarter was more than 53 percent.
  • This year in the first quarter the rate was more than 66 percent.
  • And in the quarter just finished it was 57 percent.

ACS Interim Director Joe Angelo said the historical average is about 30 percent for Live Release Rates.

"We are hovering around 60 percent live release," Angelo said. "It is the highest live release rate in the history -- the 60-year history -- of Animal Care Services."

The Humane Society, San Antonio Pets Alive and other groups have been brought in to help adopt out animals.

"It just makes a perfect partnership and that's why we're seeing the success that we are." Angelo said.

But John Bachman, of Voice for Animals, said ACS is relying too much on numbers.

"Efficiency is great but efficiency without compassion is tyranny," Bachman said.

He said the numbers may not tell the full story.

In an angry string of emails Angelo shared with many others, he criticized ACS bureaucracy.

"Just because you can draw a chart and put little peg points on it, doesn't get it done," Bachman said.

And he questions what is happening to the pets taken by the other groups.

"Once they're out their door, they don't care," Bachman said of ACS.

San Antonio Pets Alive said it only euthanizes suffering or terminally ill pets. The Animal Defense League said it has rescued more than 300 pets from ACS and that all have been adopted or are still at ADL.

Here are some links to ACS and the organizations helping it adopt out pets.