Town hall aims to find solutions to San Antonio’s stray animal problem

According to Deanna Lee, 30,000 animals are spayed and neutered a year but to curb the problem that number would need to be more than tripled.

We've been following a troubling trend of owner-surrendered animals and strays across San Antonio. On Sunday, a group of rescue organizations held a town hall to brainstorm a solution.

SAN ANTONIO – We see them roaming the streets and filling rescues, including San Antonio Animal Care Services. Stray, loose and even owner-surrendered dogs and cats.

“Most of the rescue community is just tired, overwhelmed, underfunded and we need help from the city,” Deanna Lee, a local rescuer, said.

Lee organized a town hall at Braun Hall on the Northwest Side Sunday. There were over 20 local rescues represented there.

Their goal was to lay out issues they’re facing when trying to help animals across San Antonio.

“Spay and neuter is the most important component in addressing this stray population in the city,” Lee said.

If they’re not born, they don’t roam the streets and ultimately fill ACS or rescue shelters. But there’s still one more problem with that solution.

“We’re only building about 2,500 to 3,000 vets a year. There’s currently a deficit of about 7,000,” Shannon Sims, the director at Animal Care Services said.

With not enough veterinarians, the number of animals waiting to be spayed and neutered continues to grow.

Sims said in the long term, they won’t fix the city’s problem without that demand being met.

“The root of the problem is a lack of spay-neuter in the community, both whether the city is paying for it or who’s paying for it, there is not enough to service our community now,” Sims said.

This part of the equation won’t be solved in the short term, so in the meantime, rescues are asking the community to foster.

“Our most immediate need right now is for fosters because the animals that were born need homes,” Lee said.

Sims mentioned he’s hopeful the bond that includes a new veterinary hospital will be approved on May 7th by voters. It’ll double their spay and neuter capabilities and allow them to recruit more veterinarians.

About the Authors:

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.

Gavin Nesbitt is a photojournalist and video editor who joined KSAT in September 2021. He has traveled across the great state of Texas to film, conduct interviews and edit many major news stories, including the White Settlement church shooting, Hurricane Hanna, 2020 presidential campaigns, Texas border coverage and the Spurs.