San Antonio Animal Care Services has begun implementing its long-range strategic plan, outlining departmental priorities and future programs designed to provide more of a balance between animal care and control.

The background

According to a Jan. 16 news release, the strategic plan contains five broadly defined focus areas:
  • Supporting a safe community for people in their neighborhoods
  • Protecting the safety and humane treatment of pets
  • Supporting the placement of pets for life
  • Fostering positive perceptions with the community
  • Empowering a healthy and thriving city department workforce
Each focus area includes subpriorities and tactics for success to support humane animal welfare in San Antonio, the plan states.

City officials said they spent 18 months developing the strategic plan following a public survey, stakeholder meetings, focus groups and researching industry best practices.

Digging deeper

In previous public meetings and statements, many city officials have expressed a desire to see improvements in animal control functions after recent incidents where dogs attacked people. Local officials have also sought to promote responsible pet ownership.

The plan offers more than 40 objectives spread across the five focus areas. Some objectives include:
  • Reducing the stray animal population via enhanced spay/neuter programs
  • Increasing SAACS personnel presence in neighborhoods
  • Bolstering accountability and responsiveness following reports of bites, dangerous animals and lack or absence of compliance with local animal control or welfare laws
  • Advancing a community-led standard of care
  • Increasing staff and resources to investigate cruelty cases appropriately
  • Increasing accountability of civil and criminal citations
  • Eliminating illegal, inhumane breeding
  • Lowering the number of owner surrenders
  • Raising the number of pets reunited with their owners
  • Growing the foster program for harder-to-place animals
  • Expanding access to humane pet education
  • Fulfilling ACS staffing needs