San Antonio City Council on May 18 approved adjusting the city’s fiscal year 2022-23 budget to increase funding for animal care services and to add multidisciplinary response teams to address emergency mental health calls for service.

Mental health care

According to a news release, the city is expanding the San Antonio Community Outreach and Resiliency Effort pilot program citywide.

The SA CORE team, comprised of a clinician, paramedic and police officer, responds to 911 mental health calls. City officials said, in such cases, the police officer secures the scene while the clinician and the paramedic address physical and mental health concerns. The team transports and/or connects the patient with services and follows up regularly with the patient.

Council’s action May 18 will result in expanding the SA CORE program from one to three teams to cover more areas around town and bring on additional clinicians through the Center for Health Care Services.

According to city officials, during the SA CORE program’s first year from April 2022-April 2023, the team responded to 1,465 calls for service, of which 35% were resolved on scene.

City officials said 28% of the service calls provided emergency mental health care services through emergency detention, and 13% were voluntarily transported for behavioral hospital, outpatient clinic, social needs or EMS transport services. In 2022, there were more than 32,000 mental health-related calls placed to 911, officials added.

Animal care services

Council also approved allocating more than $848,000 to begin implementing key elements of the city’s animal care services strategic plan, which was developed with input from residents, animal care services partners and city staff.

The release states this month will grow the department’s field apprenticeship program to raise enforcement efforts while providing new officers with on-the-job training.

City officials said, as apprentices progress in their new career path, veteran officers will be moved into new roles, including bite investigations and dangerous dog enforcement.

The city will also provide more no-cost spay and neuter surgeries for San Antonio pet owners as well as bolster shelter support with expanded hours in the animal care services adoption center and kennels, the release states.

Additionally, animal care services officials will participate in a transport partnership program to help increase adoptions of pets who are in their care. Funds will also be used on a comprehensive education and a marketing campaign focused on humane pet care.

City Manager Erik Walsh said the city is expanding residential access to critical services with these mid-year budget improvements.

“We’re adding resources to support residents who call 911 and are experiencing a mental health crisis. Additionally, the resources being added to animal care services will help address dangerous dogs in San Antonio’s neighborhoods,” Walsh said in a statement.