ABILENE, Texas - Saving taxpayer dollars could mean saying "no" to thousands of animals dropped off at the Abilene Animal Shelter.
The shelter's proposed $900,000 plus budget for Fiscal Year 2014 is up 2.3 percent from the current budget and was presented to Abilene City Council Wednesday.
According to Animal Services Manager Aaron Vannoy, the increase is mainly due to increases in supply costs.
City council members want to explore ways to cut costs and ensure the shelter operates efficiently in the long run.
The shelter currently has an open-intake policy. Vannoy said though it is not immediately clear how long that policy has been in place, it definitely has not gone unnoticed.
"Just this week we had people come from Lubbock all the way to Abilene because they heard in Lubbock well Abilene at least gives them a chance to get adopted where other facilities don't," Vannoy said.
Shelter staff work with various rescue groups to get animals adopted; however, just last week, 47 percent – or about 280 – of the 597 animals that were taken in came from outside the city limits.
"That's a lot of animals coming to us – I mean it's a lot of animals coming to us period, you know – but we still have to make a decision," Vannoy said. "Can we support that many animals with the funding that we have?"
With so many animals coming in, another fair question is whether the animals have a fighting chance for adoption.
"When the volume starts getting so high, that puts pressure on every animal in the shelter and it shortens the length of stay for every animal in the shelter so we have to make decisions," Vannoy said. "Is it fair for people to bring us an animal from Abilene that their life span is shortened because somebody brought us an animal from outside our region?"
If restrictions on where animals come from are imposed at the shelter, Vannoy said people from other cities will still have options.
"Almost every other city in Texas has their own shelter," Vannoy said. "Anson has a shelter. Clyde, Tye all these other cities have their own shelters for their own communities and so you know in an ideal world they would be responsible for the animals coming out of their community."
A decision on any restrictions will not necessarily be made before the FY 14 budget is approved. City officials are merely discussing potential options.
The shelter is always in need of monetary or food donations – especially donations of dry dog and puppy food.
To donate or adopt animal, the shelter is located at 925 South 25th Street. Visit the shelter's website here.
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