News Briefs 

Animal facility sub-par, Click > Mouse > Find > Pet, Homeless ID's

Animal facility still sub-par

Members of the Citizens for Pound Reform, Animal Defense League, Bexar County Humane Society, and the Animal Care Advisory Board gathered on a warm summer morning last week to discuss the reported deficiencies of the new Animal Care Service facility to be located on the city's South Side.

The new facility can house only 20 animals at a time, half the number the current center can hold. These shortages can dramatically decrease the number of animals the city is able to save.

click to enlarge news-animalbf3_330jpg
Animal care advocates - and animals - lobbied the City to maintain a downtown adoption/entertainment shelter for unwanted pets. (Photo by Melissa Santos)

Activists propose that the city retain the current facility in Brackenridge Park as a satellite pet adoption and public education site. "The hope is that we can save this building, and turn it into an adoption/educational center. It's a perfect location with the zoo across the street and families always in the area," said Animal Defense League Representative Cathy McCoy.

— Mario Ochoa


Click the mouse, find a pet

Meet Cocoa, an 8-year-old female tortoise shell cat and victim of divorce.

"Her owner lost the house and couldn't keep the animals. I saved Cocoa from being killed at the pound. Could you give her a good home?" reads the ad on Petfinder.com, a national, online directory of adoptable pets. Cocoa's milk chocolate-and-charcoal fur surround her gray eyes in the photo taken by her new and impermanent owner.

Cocoa is one of hundreds of San Antonio pets up for adoption on the site, which is reportedly the largest and oldest pet directory on the web. At the click of the mouse, the site's users can browse through ads and photos of more than 180,000 pets at more than 8,000 animal placement organizations nationwide and can narrow their search by location and type of animal.

Cocoa's ad was placed by CorgiDane Rescue, a pair of independent rescuers in San Antonio who are "dedicating to saving the lives of welsh corgis, corgi mixes, and great danes," according to their website.

Other local rescuers such as the San Antonio Area Scottie Westie Rescue, which has taken in 15 to 20 abandoned dogs per year for 18 years, have had a good response from the ads they post on Petfinder.com.

"Normally, we can find the right home within two to three weeks," said Daphne Branzell, who runs San Antonio Area Scottie Westie Rescue with her husband. "We have more applicants than dogs. The animal rescue community is very grateful to the people who founded Petfinder.com."

As part of a New Year's resolution to help homeless pets, an Arizona couple started Petfinder.com in 1995. Animal placement organizations have since been allowed to use the site free of charge.

Animal Care Services Division in San Antonio, which also uses Petfinder.com as a way to spread the word about adoptable pets, is trying to develop a system to place more advertisements on the web. A fledging volunteer group has been in charge of the photos and ads since the organization started using the site, but according to Animal Care Administrator Sam Sanchez, the animals currently outnumber the amount of work the volunteers can do.

"It has not made the big impact everyone thinks it has," Sanchez said. "Quite simply, it's because we have so many animals coming in and out. It's very difficult to do because of the huge volume of animals."

Heather Holmes


Homeless can get IDs

District 1 Councilman Roger Flores and the Salvation Army have teamed up to provide nongovernmental identification cards to anyone interested in having one, though the program is geared toward helping San Antonio's homeless population. More than 150 IDs have already been issued.

The ID cards include the individual's photo, name, next-of-kin contact information, and a thumb print among other vital statistics such as date of birth and Social Security number.

"`The IDs` are very important because IDs are often stolen so `the homeless` are walking around with no way to prove who they are," said Carolyn Meyer, director of the Holy Spirit Homeless Ministry. "It's like being lost in the system. This is just the beginning. This card is going to grow into so much more."

Flores recently sponsored a $5,000 start-up grant for the program; the Salvation Army will pick up the tab when the seed money runs out.

The ID card will be a ticket into any Salvation Army shelter and a way for the homeless to access other Salvation Army services, though they can still receive services even if they do not have identification. An estimated 500 homeless people living in shelters in San Antonio; another 1,500 reportedly live on the streets, according to Meyer. Thousands of other men, women, and children often live with relatives or friends but are essentially homeless.

"We're here to help them, lift them up, help them go forward," said Major Robert Stutts, Salvation Army Area Commander, during a press conference at the Salvation Army Hope Center on June 13.

"One of the things I'm going to do is to ask our own city ... to be able to utilize this particular ID for entrance into city shelters," Flores said during the same press conference.

Individuals requesting the ID cards are responsible for providing the proper identification documents such as birth certificates or Social Security cards. If none are available, the Salvation Army will issue the card with the information given and include a note saying that the information was not corroborated by any document.

J.D. Lawtum, director of development for the Salvation Army, said the data will be kept confidential. "Law enforcement will only be able to access it witah a court order. The data will be treated with utmost privacy."

Heather Holmes


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