Alamo Heights ACS teams up with dog daycare for new solution to old problem of overcrowded shelters

Program helps stray dogs learn social skills to give them better chance of getting adopted

ALAMO HEIGHTS, Texas – Alamo Heights Animal Care Services believes it has a new solution to an old problem of loose dogs and overcrowded shelters.

Alamo Heights ACS has teamed up with a dog daycare to help stray dogs become beloved pets.

Larissa Lyons, operations manager at Dogtopia, said the goal of the program is to help stray dogs socialize better and learn to trust humans so they can find a new home.

“A lot of people want a dog that can go into their home and blend into the family really easily. And a lot of times that’s really difficult for dogs if they’ve never had any foundation training,” Lyons said.

Two months into the program, Alamo Heights ACS manager Jennifer Stewart said the pilot program is going into permanent mode.

“The first dog that we boarded at Dogtopia had a complete turnaround. Within the first week of him being there, we could see the difference, and then a couple of weeks later, he got adopted,” Stewart said.

Stewart said that in 2022, Alamo Heights ACS impounded 150 dogs. So far in 2023, that number has dropped to 70.

“It’s not necessarily an Alamo Heights situation. But it is a San Antonio situation. San Antonio does have a loose and stray dog problem,” Lyons said.

Lyons said the training covers the doggie basics: sit, stay, and lay down. But more importantly, it’s the human interaction the dogs get throughout the training.

“Just to make sure he’s OK with me being around his face and his teeth. And then the other things that I do during this time is like touching his paws,” Lyons said.

Lyons hopes to expand the program to other cities to help reduce the stress on shelters and give strays a leg up come adoption day.

About the Authors:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.

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.