The Department of Animal Services presented fiscal year 2016 data to the El Paso City Council that showed a significant increase the department’s live-release rate. The data also revealed a meaningful decline in euthanasia, and in the intake of animals.
In FY2016, Animal Services achieved a live-release rate of 56%. This is a 12% increase from FY2015 which had a live-release rate of 44%. The increase is a big step forward for Animal Services which had a 26% live-release rate in FY2013. Live-release is defined as any animal that is adopted, returned to its owner, or transferred to a rescue partner.
Live-Release Rates at Animal Services
- FY2016 – 56%
- FY2015 – 44%
- FY2014 – 33%
- FY2013 – 26%
“I don’t think we could have made it this far without the hard work that everyone involved put forth,” said City Representative Dr. Michiel Noe, Mayor’s liaison on City Council to the Animal Services Task Force. “I want to thank the Mayor for supporting me in this initiative. As well as the City Manager, the Interim Director of Animal Services, the task force, most of Council and of course, the citizens that brought this to ur attention. We never would have brought this effort forward if it wasn’t for them and their passion to save animal lives.”
As the live-release rate saw an increase, euthanasia took a substantial drop. In FY2016, a total of 9,646 animals were euthanized. While the number is still unacceptable, the number has dropped 29% from FY2015 when 13,533 animals were euthanized.
Another decline was also seen in the intake of animals at the Animal Services Shelter. In FY2016, a total of 26,731 animals were housed at the shelter. This is a 9% drop from FY2015 when 29,355 animals made it to Animal Services.
In an effort to address the high euthanasia rate at the Animal Services Shelter, City Manager Tommy Gonzalez created a task force in 2015 with the purpose of identifying animal shelter best practices that result in an increased live-release rate.
In their effort to identify best practices, this task force visited several successful animal shelters that once suffered from low live-release rates but are now seeing their live-release rate increase. In addition, the task force also sought input from residents through various community meetings, and also met with animal rescue groups throughout the region.
Through this research, the task force identified key characteristics and best practices that were common among “no-kill” shelters. This information was presented to City Council earlier this year as part of a five year plan that aims at reaching a live-release rate of 90% or greater by the end of fiscal year 2020.
City Council took action this year by approving the necessary funding to begin implementing this plan.