Fate of Humane Society in doubt

Meagan Downing | Lariat Photographer
The many animals up for adoption may be but down at the Humane Society of Central Texas.

By Maegan Rocio
Staff Writer

The Humane Society of Central Texas will give control of its facility and operations to the city of Waco on Oct. 1. The decision was reached after the city of Waco did not renew its contract with the Humane Society.

Don Bland, interim executive director of the Humane Society of Central Texas, said the contract will expire at the end of the month. He also said the expected transitional date is tentative at best.

“They know that they’ll have to work with us for the transition period,” he said. “We don’t know how long that will take when they can transition it all over. They don’t have all the answers, and we don’t either. This was all very new, and so we have to work together to come to the best solution possible.”

Bland said city officials have been on site for the past two days to determine what is needed to run the shelter.

Bland also said the city isn’t interested in continuing the facility’s adoption program.

“They are not interested in running an adoption center for the public, and the Humane Society will not have the funds to run a kennel operation or build a kennel because the city contracts are what funded us,” he said.

Bland also said after the transition between ownership is complete, the city will continue to hold any animals it receives, but only for 72 hours if there are not any other outside circumstances, such as the animal being involved in a criminal investigation.

After that period, animals will be euthanized.

“The city has expressed no interest in holding anything longer than required by law,” he said. “So unless we can work something out where we can do adoptions or have access, we can work something out. We don’t know. That’s what we’re working on.”

Bland said the city ended its contract with the Humane Society after it asked for more funds to run its operations. Bland said the city provided the animal shelter with $300,000 per year. This past year, the animal shelter requested more funding.

“We asked for an increase of 75,000 more,” he said. “And that was supplemented. That wasn’t enough. We have to supplement it with our fundraising efforts to keep our doors open with that amount.

Bland said the Humane Society plans to host its annual fundraising event, the Waco Wine and Food Festival, on Oct. 6 despite the uncertainty about the shelter’s future.

“All those dollars go toward our mission of finding homes for animals. It’s underwritten, so every dollar that people use to buy a raffle ticket for a beautiful black and white diamond necklace, or any table ticket, it strictly goes straight to helping the animals, and we encourage people to participate since we need the money now more than ever,” he said.

Woodway freshman Allie Bellert came to the shelter with her friend, Blake Ramos, to look for a dog to adopt.

She said she did not know about the situation going on between the city and the animal shelter.

Ramos, a Hewitt resident, said he worked as a volunteer at the animal shelter.

“I used to do community services hours here and everything, so I used to do a little bit of work with the animals,” he said. “It’s a wonderful place. I worked with a couple of people from the time I worked here. They take great care of the animals.”

Ramos said he is disappointed at the transition. “I see some of the dogs that come through here,” he said. “They could really use a good home. They’re really loving animals, but if you shut this place down, they’ll be stuck on the streets, and they won’t have a chance at all.”

There is a petition against the shelter becoming a Closed Kill Facility.

So far, over 1300 petitioners have sent their letter in support of the shelter. To send a petition, visit www.change.org and search for Waco City Council