After years of striving to become "no-kill," San Antonio's Animal Care Services Department has at least partially reached that goal.
ACS Director Kathy Davis announced that in March and April, the shelter reached the no-kill goal in terms of cats. That means for the first time, the city is releasing alive almost as many cats as it takes in.
"Our cute kitties have been flying out the door and we just could not be more tickled," Davis said. "So we have achieved, for two months, no-kill with our cats."
She said it is an odd sight in the cattery at ACS because there are empty cages.
Davis said the reason is a steady push to spay and neuter feral cats and those adopted out.
"We're getting there," Davis said. "Our rescue partners have just done a phenomenal job. But we're not quite there yet. We still need more people to embrace spay-neuter."
She said in the past two years, there have been more than 9,000 spay/neuter surgeries on cats alone.
She admits there is still much work to be done with dogs, but said statistics show the overall live release rate is improving.
In 2011, only 32 percent of animals taken in were released alive. That improved to 61 percent in 2012, 77 percent last year and so far this year, it is 81 percent.
"We still have a lot of strays in the neighborhoods that have to be picked up and we're focused on taking care of that," Davis said.
She said the help of partners like the Feral Cat Coalition, Best Friends shelter and the Brack Cat Pack have provided much help.
The San Antonio Area Foundation has also helped and Gavin Nichols, SAAF director of grants and programs, said he is happy with the progress so far.
"My thoughts are (that) ACS is doing great," Nichols said. "There's still work to do, of course, because we want to be at a no-kill level, which is generally recognized to be 90 percent and above."
He said his group pushes Care Adopt Neuter, or CAN. He also offered some advice for people who want to adopt a pet.
"Don't buy a pet from an ad in the newspaper or from a backyard breeder," Nichols said. "Adopt from one of these adoption groups, shelters. Then you're giving those pets a chance to get out."
Hopes are with help from all of the ACS rescue partners, it will not be too long before more cages in the dog adoption area are vacant as well.
There were a total of 57,000 spay-neuter surgeries done in San Antonio last year alone.