SAN ANTONIO – A 30-year-old woman who, according to Animal Care Services, claimed she was rescuing dogs but kept them in deplorable conditions is now being charged with animal cruelty.
Monique Smith was arrested Tuesday when ACS officers arrived at her home in the 300 block of Brettonwood on the city's Northeast Side to seize 23 dogs.
Lisa Norwood, a spokeswoman with ACS, said the dogs were still being kept in the deplorable conditions despite urging Smith for a week to make needed improvements.
ACS rescue foster supervisor Candace Harrington said Smith was not on the ACS list of more than 500 approved rescue groups.
"If we didn't have them, I don't know what we'd do, honestly," Harrington said.
ACS takes in more than 30,000 animals yearly, Harrington said.
"We don't have the space to keep 33,000 animals on campus. There's just no way," she said.
Harrington said ACS is very grateful to rescue groups in San Antonio and across the nation that transport large numbers of dogs to other parts of the country for adoption.
Since working with rescue groups, ACS said its placement rate has skyrocketed.
In 2011, before its partnership with rescue groups, it was only at 32 percent, which meant 68 percent of the animals were being euthanized.
Last year, however, only eight percent were put down, with a placement rate of 92 percent.
Harrington said there is a vetting process involved in becoming an approved rescue group, starting with being a certified 501(c)(3) non-profit.
She said they especially monitor some of the newer groups that are recognized by ACS.
"We don’t really know a lot about them and so we want to make sure we’re doing our due diligence," Harrington said.
Harrington said if not, "It just makes me sad to think some of the situations some of these animals could be placed in."
If problems are not corrected, Harrington said those rescue groups will be held accountable and have their group's name removed from the approved list.
For those who think they can start an at-home shelter and wish to have more than eight animals, Norwood said the city requires an excess animal permit.
Norwood said the $25 excess animal permit is required, along with another vetting process and an inspection of the home.
Harrington said many people are well-intentioned by taking in animals, only to be overwhelmed later on.
"It’s not good for you and it's not good for the animals," Harrington said.