November 13, 2023

Euthanasia Policy, Dog Pound Update

Our city departments work hard, day in and day out, to deliver the high quality of services residents and stakeholders expect.  They are committed to doing so with transparency, and often in close partnership with the community when appropriate.  Which is why it can be so frustrating that they frequently find themselves having to battle misinformation and dispel rumors, time that could be better spent providing services.

The latest example comes in the form of online postings falsely claiming there’s a new policy under which more dogs would be euthanized at the Bellaire Pound.  It’s a scare tactic, plain and simple, employed by some dog advocates to elicit an emotional response and sense of urgency for fosters and adoptions.  Sure, we all like seeing dogs rescued from the pound, but this isn’t the way to go about it.

Not only is it untrue to suggest dogs are at imminent risk of being euthanized, earlier this year the Bellaire Police Department actually lengthened (from 30 to 45 days) the amount of time healthy dogs will be held before the prospect of euthanasia even potentially comes into play.  The department updated its policy specifically in response to community concerns that the prior holding period was too short.  Effective March 1, 2023:
(a) Euthanasia will be considered when necessary for medical and behavioral reasons or when space considerations make population reduction necessary.  Domestic and wild animals may be humanely euthanized or transferred.  Un-weaned, critically ill, or seriously injured domestic animals may be humanely euthanized before the 72-hour stray hold period to prevent any additional suffering.  Notes from a veterinarian must be on record should this occur.

(b) Should a dog remain in custody after 30 days of impoundment, an evaluation will be done on the 30th day to ensure that adoption or transfer to a rescue is feasible.

(c) If all attempts to place the dog have been exhausted, the animal shall be euthanized on the 45th day by any department-approved vet clinic.
The department has also expanded its network and relationships with animal welfare organizations that are better equipped to assist with placements.  Recently there were two dogs that had been in the pound for a few weeks, still well within the 45-day holding period, that were accepted by the Houston Humane Society, which has been wonderful in supporting our rehoming efforts.  Euthanasia is the absolute last resort.

You can’t believe everything you read on social media.  When you come across such sensational and inflammatory posts, never hesitate to ask—our staff pride themselves on being accessible and are more than happy to answer questions about how and why they do what they do.  Thanks to those of you who have reached out and given them the opportunity to clear things up.

We’ve come a long way in upping our game at the Bellaire Pound and in building a culture of trust with community partners and other stakeholders who are rightly concerned about the welfare of the animals in our care.  Every instance of misinformation like this only sets us back and undermines those efforts and partnerships.  Transparency is a two-way street.  Please get your facts from the source, and again, when in doubt, ask.

Dog Pound Update

While we’re on the subject, here’s the latest on our dog pound construction project.  In September we completed, on time and under budget, significant improvements to the existing facility on Edith St., which will ultimately be repurposed as a temporary holding/transfer station once the new pound on W. Bellfort is built and operational.  It’s got all new durable sunshades, industrial-grade fans, cinderblock barriers between kennels to prevent nose-to-nose contact, and an updated electrical system for better reliability (and to support the additional load of the fans).  We also repaired a crack in one wall, replaced the rusted front door and put on a fresh coat of paint inside and out.

Over on W. Bellfort, however, we haven’t made nearly as much progress as we’d hoped.  We’ve hit a few snags in the initial stages, concerning the process for site design and procurement of the modular structure, and are currently working with the Rubensteins on a plan moving forward.  Nothing we won’t be able to figure out, but unfortunately we’re not yet able to commit to a timeline for construction to begin.  Staff will of course continue to keep Council and the public informed on the status of the project.