SAN ANTONIO – After the coronavirus pandemic began and its clinics limited their capacity, Animal Care Services was forced to no longer do in-house spay and neuter surgeries.
Instead, ACS issued 2,200 taxpayer-funded vouchers to cover the cost to have them done by veterinarians and other organizations that partner with ACS, said Heber Lefgren, its director.
Although state law requires animals be spayed or neutered before leaving the shelter, Lefgren said it also provides other ways to do that.
One of them, he said, is passing along the responsibility to the person adopting the animal.
“That voucher provides the free resources, but the law still requires the owner to ensure that pet gets sterilized,” Lefgren said.
He said they must sign a sterilization agreement and abide by the conditions specified in the voucher.
“We let them know of the requirement that the state has to ensure that the pet be spayed or neutered,” Lefgren said. “If necessary, a violation can result in us issuing citations to make sure that the owner does come into compliance.”
But as of now, Lefgren said, no citations have been issued.
He said just over half, or 1,131, have complied.
The other vouchers were for animals that were taken in by rescue groups that chose other options to get them sterilized, Lefgren said.
Even so, he said, “ACS is tracking those vouchers. It is our priority to be able to make sure that they are sterilized."
However, Lefgren pointed out that ACS understands other clinics also had to limit the number of surgeries it does.
“We are being compassionate. We are being understanding,” Lefgren said. “Because there have not been any signs that have indicated a willful intent to not come into compliance.”
But now that ACS is starting to ramp up its in-house, spay-neuter services, Lefgren said, “We have some capacity and we’re inviting some of them back.”