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Thirty-five dogs could be slaughtered at the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter this weekend if no homes are found for them by Friday.

Hays County’s only public animal shelter is starting a $ 240,000 renovation project next week, including much-needed repairs and upgrades that will be completed in three phases. Each phase will focus on a different wing of the shelter, and construction of the first wing of the shelter is expected to begin next week.

The wing that will be under construction next week is home to 35 dogs – all of whom will be at risk of euthanasia if foster or adoption homes are not found for them before construction begins.

The city of San Marcos, which operates the shelter, declined a request for an interview on the issue, but instead provided a two-page written statement outlining the city’s efforts to get the dogs adopted and begin renovations to the shelter.

“In preparation for the start of construction, shelter staff researched and explored options for creating additional housing in existing shelters, including the possibility of dividing existing kennels with partitions or putting in place. additional temporary kennels, ”the statement read. “However, none of the options presented were viable due to the risks of disease transmission, safety concerns and temperature fluctuations. Staff also considered renting boarding space for animals, but the option would be prohibitively expensive and exceed available budgets. “

The city posted to its Facebook and Instagram pages on September 12, and then again on October 15, discussing building shelters and asking people to foster or adopt animals. The city also sent an “urgent email plea” on Oct. 19 to nonprofit rescue groups, asking them to step in and take the dogs at immediate risk of being euthanized.

“Although the goal of the shelter is to find homes for 35 dogs, eight of them are at increased risk of euthanasia if alternative housing is not guaranteed by Friday October 22, as they have a Adoption pool limited due to stories of bites, assaults on other animals, special training needs, or have been at the shelter for a long time compared to other adoptable animals, ”the report reads. city ​​release. “The eight dogs have been housed in a highly visible area of ​​the shelter, most for many months, and have been promoted on SMRAS social media pages or adoption events two to six times since. February 2021, but have unfortunately been overlooked by potential adopters for a variety of reasons.

The city added that “no final decision has been made regarding the euthanasia of adoptable animals.”

The eight dogs most at risk for euthanasia include Willow, a keen brown-eyed German Shepherd mix who has been adopted and discharged three times since January due to fights with other dogs; Louis, a dog-aggressive pit bull mix who must be the only dog ​​in the house; and Pear, a 2-year-old core mix who “deteriorated physically and mentally here at the shelter due to stress.”

Although the city says it made several efforts to get the dogs adopted before construction began, animal advocates in San Marcos say the city and the shelter haven’t done enough.

Jennifer Hayes, a shelter volunteer who photographs the dogs for the website and social media, accused the city of not planning ahead and of raising awareness of the shelter’s situation ahead of time. She is begging community members to step in and take the dogs to their homes for placement or adoption.

“When I asked at the Animal Shelter Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday October 13th what their plan was to house the dogs during this disruption, I was told they were going to come up with a special adoption offer. and that they might have to mix the dogs, ”Hayes said. in a Facebook post. A reduced adoption fee of $ 10 for ready-to-adopt pets was announced on Friday, October 15.

However, the shelter / town must not have any plans in place other than special adoption, as late on Tuesday October 19, the shelter sent an email to some rescue partners stating that 35 kennels need to be emptied and that eight dogs were given a deadline of Friday October 22, ”said Hayes.

“There was no appeal to the community for help. It puts those of us who are volunteers and activists in a heartbreaking situation, ”she said. “Please don’t miss that their lack of planning is leading to more deaths.”

Sharri Boyett, an animal advocate appointed by Hays County, said the current situation is the result of poor communication from the city.

“They don’t know what one hand and the other are doing,” Boyett said. “I call it crisis management. It shouldn’t be like that.

To learn about adoptable dogs or cats at the San Marcos Regional Animal Shelter, visit sanmarcostx.gov/adoptapet, email [email protected] or call (512) 805-2650 to make an appointment.

Annie Blanks writes for Express-News through Report for America, a national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms. ReportforAmerica.org. [email protected]

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