Animals are something to be thrown away.
That is the message those who see the problem first hand say they have gotten from many in our community.
People with the Amarillo Panhandle Humane Society say the problem here is far and above what it is in other cities — and it’s time to fix it.
Dozens of dogs and cats are being dumped on country roads, abandoned in front of the shelter, or never reclaimed if they are lost.
“This is absolutely unacceptable from a humane perspective as well as just a tax dollar perspective,” said Richard Havens, with Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare.
Larry Milam, the director at the Amarillo-Panhandle Humane Society says people are only adding to the problem by not spaying or neutering their animal.
“Anybody who wants to be a backyard breeder, breed their dog, then turn around and sell their puppies on the roadside, that is all incremental income, and then for any animal they can’t sell, their solution is to dump it here at the shelter,” says Milam.
For a city the size of Amarillo, the problem is an epidemic.
Milam says the per capita rate of animals coming into the shelter dwarves what you see in Austin, a city almost eight times our size.
“We have 67% as many animals that come into our shelter as Austin experiences so on a per capita rate we are at least two times what Austin is.”
The city is looking at ordinances to help reduce the animal population by helping community members pay for a spay or neuter.
“We intend to eliminate cost as a barrier to anyone in the community to have their pet spayed and neutered,” said Milam.
It will cost just $20 initially then $20 a month.
Through a proposed ordinance, breeders could also soon be penalized.
“Individuals that are breeding animals whether it be on accident or on purpose are going to have to come to the table and help pay and fix the problem because they are the ones creating the problem,” said Havens.
To help fund the humane society, they are working with the city to add a small, tax-deductible fee to people’s water bills.
“Our proposal is to add a 90 cent per month fee to the water bill that citizens will pay, it will be a tax-deductible contribution then it would be an opt-out fee,” added Milam.
The ultimate goal is for 90% of all animals that enter the shelter to leave alive.
Havens says the problem would be much worse if it wasn’t for other communities.
He tells us, states like Colorado and Kansas helped rescue more than 3,500 of our animals in 2017.
If those animals hadn’t been rescued, they too would have been euthanized.
We at KAMR Local 4 News are partnering with the humane society to help raise more awareness for the animals in need.
Each Friday on Today in Amarillo and on the News at Five, we feature a pet you can rescue.
We also head up clear the shelters each August where the humane society and others reduce rates to help get animals adopted.
For the latest statistics, click here.
To view proposed ordinances AAM&W is working on, click here.