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Cove animal board hopes to keep humane societies at bay

by Natasha Chen

COPPERAS COVE - The city council will consider a change to its animal ordinance Tuesday, a proposal brought forward by the animal advisory board to eliminate the option for the transfer of animals to humane societies or no-kill shelters.

The ordinance as it reads now requires the city council to approve any humane organization requesting to retrieve animals from the city's animal control facility.

"Some of these animals do go to other no-kill facilities, and they wind up in what I feel, and what others may feel also, a worse condition, as far as facilities, due to overcrowding and all," said Dr. Kevin Kruse, a veterinarian on the animal advisory board.

In addition to citing overcrowding as a problem, Kruse said that no-kill shelters will often keep animals caged in small, confined spaces for an unhealthy length of time, something not in the best interest of the animal.

Kruse said that at the Copperas Cove Animal Control, "it would be left there for a shorter amount of time. Yes, it will probably be put down though. When it reaches a certain length of time because of the constant flow of new animals coming in, they have to have room, and they would have to make decisions as to which ones need to be euthanized humanely."

But Kruse and other Animal Control employees say the facility is not often over-capacity. Still, according to records on the city Web site, Copperas Cove euthanized more than 1,000 dogs and cats in 2008, while giving 72 of them to rescue groups.

Michaela Ramos, who helps relay animals to various rescue organizations in Central Texas, said that the city should let humane societies step in to prevent euthanasia.

"I don't understand the city at all for not welcoming this, because every other city here: Harker Heights, Lampasas, Fort Hood, Killeen...Killeen does an outstanding job with rescue. They're happy when we come in because they do not want to euthanize," Ramos said.

Ramos has tried to seek council approval to obtain animals from animal control as per the ordinance, but has not received a final response.

"I started this a year ago, this process. And I don't know why it's not approved yet, what their issue is. I've been told we're going to look into it, and that's it. And I'm stuck," she said.

Kruse said that Ramos might be having problems with approval because she represents several organizations, and that each organization may have to come forward to apply to the council individually.

In addition, Kruse said that no-kill shelters and humane societies tend to charge a great deal more for adoptions than the Copperas Cove Animal Control, which charges $15 per adoption.

"These rescue groups are charging a lot more money than what animal control would ever charge," he said. "Couple hundred dollars sometimes."

And with outside groups often requesting the healthiest, most popular breeds, Kruse said people might go to them to adopt instead, but will be faced with higher fees.

Ramos said, "If there is a way of making money with rescue, I would like to know. Because I haven't figured it out yet, so no. Just because there is a $150 adoption fee on a dog, doesn't mean I make money. Because I might have spent $600-700 on this dog."

Ramos referred to the many costs associated with spaying and neutering the animals before adoption, services which the city's animal control department does not do.

Still, members of the advisory board said that as a governmental body, animal control is capable of tracking down those who do not spay and neuter their pets as per state law.

Kruse said, "Animal control has that force to go through the municipal courts to go after the person who's not doing what's required by state law. Where some of the no-kill shelters, they just don't follow up because they just don't have the time."

Copperas Cove will hold their council meeting Tuesday at 7:00pm.


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