WITH SURVEY | Matter of Life or Death: Study Shows Homeless Euthanasia Rate on Texas Side 27.5% Higher Than National Average

TEXARKANA, Texas — The city’s euthanasia rate is 27.5 percent higher than the national average, according to a comparison with data from a 2019 study by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

The study showed that nationally, about 390,000 of the 3.1 million dogs that entered shelters in 2019 were euthanized. Texarkana Code Enforcement Officer Mashell Daniel said in a previous Gazette article that she estimated 40% of animals taken to the city’s kennel were destroyed.

“My primary concern is the health and safety of our audience,” she said in an email. “One way (sic) to solve this problem is to encourage greater owner responsibility to care for and keep our community’s pets safe and healthy.”

Daniel said the city’s euthanasia process was not random.

“It’s important to remember that we’re talking about dogs that are unowned, can’t be reunited with their owner, are sick or injured, aren’t registered according to our city ordinance, and who show signs of aggression. If a dog cannot be safely adopted or fostered, we must do what we can to keep our community safe and healthy.”

Daniel said the city does not keep records of the number of dogs euthanized each year.


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Kerry McKeel, state communications strategist for the Best Friends Animal Society, said Texas has no requirements for tracking admissions, adoptions or euthanasias. The BFAS estimates the euthanasia rate in Texas at 18.6%.

The state provides general guidelines for managing the stray animal population, but Daniel said municipalities and their residents are responsible for managing the problem.

“The only way to tackle this issue locally is for pet owners to be responsible for their own animals,” she said in an email. “We partner with the local animal coalition, rescue groups, vets and residents to work towards a safer and healthier community every day.”

Financially, other cities in the Lone Star State contribute far more resources than Texarkana to combating the pest problem.

Lufkin, Texas, a city of more than 35,000 people, has an annual budget of $800,000 to run its animal control department, according to director of animal services Aaron Ramsey. By comparison, Texarkana has a population of 36,000 and has a budget of $115,000 for animal control services this year.

Ramsey said he has 11 full-time employees, including animal control officers and shelter staff. He said they were able to house 4,845 animals in 2021. He said so far this year about 35% of the animals his department has housed have been euthanized. Ramsey said that at its maximum capacity, his facility can hold 250 animals.

Comparatively, Texarkana, Texas has two full-time budgeted positions and seven kennels in its facilities.

About 90 miles north, Longview, Texas, a town of 82,183 contributes $2 million a year to combat its stray animal problem. Comparatively, the Texarkanas have a combined population of 66,597 people.

Chris Kemper, animal services manager for the Longview Care and Adoption Center, said that so far in 2022, Longview has only euthanized 1.1% of the healthy animal population cared for at the center. He said between 12% and 20% of their total intake came from sick or injured people and their kennel could hold up to 70 dogs at a time.

Kemper said his budget covers animal control officers, a full veterinary clinic and a total of 28 staff.

Daniel said she was grateful for the help the city receives from its partners.

“We partner with state agencies such as Texas Parks & Wildlife and the Zoonosis Control Office for issues such as rabies and animal encounters outside of our regular calls,” she said in an email. “We are grateful for our partnerships with state agencies, our local coalition and business owners, our sister city, Texarkana, Arkansas, and other community leaders.”

Since the Gazette article was published earlier in May, the city has regained control of its Facebook page, Texarkana Texas Animal Services and at the time of publication of this article had posted three times in the past week.

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Jennifer R. Strohm