Montgomery County Animal Shelter earns no-kill designation with new director


Growing up in Washington, Aaron Johnson said he was always bringing animals home—from dogs and cats to horses. Today, he continues to find homes for stray animals—on a larger scale—as the director of the Montgomery County Animal Shelter.

Johnson was hired by Montgomery County in May following the resignation of former MCAS Director Charles Jackson. Prior to his role with the county, Johnson served in various roles from animal control officer to medical services manager for the Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation and Care for 10 years.

He worked for clinics in both Washington and Houston prior to his tenure with BARC, garnering 15 years of experience in the field.

“Pretty much all throughout my life, I’ve been involved with animals,” Johnson said. “It started with me bringing a horse home when I was a kid. At first my parents were like, ‘Another one? What’s going on here?’ But then they just started getting used to it. Then when I got older, I started working with small and large animals in clinics. I just always seem to go back to the animal welfare.”

Johnson has an associate degree in business management as well as several certifications, including one from a 120-hour cruelty investigations program through the University of Missouri.

As director, Johnson oversees a shelter staff of 50 and an animal control staff of 11. Johnson said he works to implement new wellness initiatives, applies for grants and assists in day-to-day activities.

Through partnerships with organizations, such as Operation Pets Alive, The Heartworm Foundation and Lone Star Animal Welfare League, Johnson has also been instrumental in raising the live release rate—the percentage of animals that leave the shelter alive­—from 81.2 percent in 2016 to 92.5 percent in 2017, designating the MCAS as a no-kill shelter, according to Eric Ravvid, the public relations director for Best Friends Animal Society, which worked with MCAS following Hurricane Harvey.

“Montgomery County’s [live release rate]is in the low nineties, so that’s a shining example of what we’re trying to do,” Ravvid said.“We’re so thankful to MCAS because they’re great partners and they’re doing a great job of what we’re trying to do, which is have more no-kill shelters.”

In addition to programs the shelter already has in place, such as Wednesday Night Walks and photo shoots for dogs on Sundays, Johnson is working to implement a spay/neuter initiative by eliminating the barrier of transportation for many pet owners.  Johnson said the shelter should be receiving its own trailer, which will serve as a multifunctional resource for MCAS, in spring 2018.

“The trailer will be able to be used in a disaster as well as for adoptions or transporting animals in a large-scale seizure,” Johnson said. “So we’re really excited about that, and hopefully we can have a good impact on the community.”

MCAS is also working to get new cages for the cat and small dog areas and pushed a microchipping initiative by offering free microchipping for Montgomery County pets through the end of 2017.

Johnson said he hopes more people will consider adopting shelter and rescue animals in the future as they are never in short supply.

“People always think they want a specific breed and that the shelter never gets those breeds, but we do—we get everything from Chihuahuas and dachshunds to German shepherds and huskies,” Johnson said. “We definitely have plenty of animals here, so please check your local shelter first.”

Johnson said although animal cruelty cases and putting down animals are the hardest parts of his job, working with animals makes everything worthwhile.

“My favorite part of this job is being able to reunite people with their pets, finding homes for animals and just seeing how resilient animals are even after severe cruelty cases,” Johnson said. “I just love working with animals—I always have—and I see myself staying here for the foreseeable future.”

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  1. This is the best news I’ve seen all day! Thank you, Aaron Johnson, and all the people who have helped make this happen. And my kitty, Blue Boy, thanks you. I adopted him from your shelter a few months ago and he is now my best friend. And also Hannah Zedaker for bringing us this great news.

    • I’ve adopted 2 dogs from there.2 very sweet furbabys. 1 had been at the shelter 3 times.hes a very sweet pit mix.all that is wrong with him is a sensitive stomach.he now has a forever home.i totally recommend adopting from this shelter.

  2. Owning a pet is a big responsibility, especially a strong, fight breed dog such as Karen mentions in the comments.
    I hope public safety is coming before “live release” concerns, because the amount of people being killed by pits and pit mixes has increased to about one per week. Life changing injuries occur daily.
    An owners manual would help in dealing with issues specific to fight breed dogs, and a simple literacy test to insure that the manual could be read would be a start in limiting inappropriate ownership of pit bull terrier type dogs.

  3. Kathy Della Sala

    Having gone to the shelter to adopt 2 dogs on 2 different occasions ( asking for dogs who had been there the longest & were not going to get adopted) this is welcoming news. Both of my boys have gone to the Rainbow bridge since I adopted them but I know that in their last years they knew unconditional love . Thanks for such an uplifting story & God bless this new director & his staff.

  4. Thank you Aaron Johnson for turning this shelter around . So appreciative of all you do.

  5. My daughter and I volunteered at MCAS years ago with NCL – the shelter was a fraction of the size then that it is now. Our last fur baby was adopted from MCAS about 1 1/2 yrs ago and she is such a blessing! It was heartbreaking to see almost 900 animals there but I am thrilled to see this progress!! Thank you Aaron Johnson for making this happen and to all the staff and volunteers!

  6. so happy its a no-kill shelter! heard that actually is a nice shelter as well

Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a full-time reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. She covers business, transportation, health care and other local news, specializing in Shenandoah City Council and Montgomery County nonprofit organizations.
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