Seagoville, TX is Your Town, U.S.A.

The Seagoville Animal Shelter is a small shelter in rural Texas.  It takes in about 1300 pets a year.  In December 2010, Sgt. Karl Bailey of the Seagoville Police Department was tapped by the police chief to take over the shelter because he loves dogs.  At that time, the shelter was killing about 70 pets a month.

Sgt. Bailey had no experience running an animal shelter and little time to make preparations.  But he knew he wasn’t going to have pets killed at any shelter where he was in charge.  As such, he began reaching out to anyone who could help him save lives at the shelter including rescuers, local humane societies, veterinarians and members of the public.  He set up a Facebook page, updated the city’s webpage for the shelter and placed an ad in the local paper asking for help saving pets’ lives.  And he met with city leaders to explain his plans and ask for their support, which they gave.

His first day on the job, Sgt. Bailey ordered needless killing be stopped at the shelter and shut down the gas chamber.  He went on to start and expand a volunteer program, start a foster program, conduct offsite adoptions in high traffic areas, open the shelter on weekends when more people were free to visit, and list pets on the city’s website as well as Facebook, television and in the newspaper.

He credits the public for stepping up to volunteer and in fact, the public is who the shelter appeals to when they need help reducing the population or with donations.  Under Sgt. Bailey’s leadership, the community saved 98% of the pets at the Seagoville shelter in 2011.

Sure Seagoville is small.  And it’s in rural Texas.  And there are probably a dozen more reasons other cities can come up with to explain why they can’t do what Seagoville does and why they “have to” keep killing pets.  But the fundamental elements of Seagoville’s success are applicable to any shelter, anywhere in the U.S.  A compassionate director committed to saving pet’s lives and instituting meaningful reform, supported by city leaders and the local community, can succeed everywhere.


15 thoughts on “Seagoville, TX is Your Town, U.S.A.

  1. I’ve visited the Seagoville shelter twice since Sgt Bailey took over. The building is tiny but always clean, and the volunteers have great attitudes.

    I particularly admire Seagoville’s volunteers because, unlike the folks running Dallas Animal Services, they 1) do NOT blame the public for pet overpopulation; 2) hold adoptions in a variety of venues, as often as possible; 3) don’t waste time telling the world how great they are.

    The committee-sitters in Dallas City Hall could learn a lot from Seagoville. Instead they have paid the HSUS $50,000 for two useless assessments, and organized one of those pretend no-kill committees that Nathan Winograd has described perfectly in his “Co-option” section of Redemption.

    1. One of the first things I noticed about Seagoville’s FB page was a statement that read something like “Our shelter is overflowing…” – and I cringed, dreading what would come next but was delighted to read some wording like – “…with pets that would make great companions!”. Refreshing.

  2. But wait, I thought the irresponsible public was the reason pounds are FORCED to kill so many animals! Now you’re telling me they are the reason this guy gets to let them live? So confused … ;-)

    I love this story because Seagoville, TX is sort of analogous to so many of our small-town and rural shelters here in NC. The ones with directors who say that can’t stop [killing/distemper outbreaks/parvo outbreaks/etc.] because they are so small and rural.

    1. Exactly! Sometimes the most fervent opposition to No-Kill comes from dog pounds (I refuse to call these holes “shelters”) in rural Southern communities. They do have some unique problems: lots of big dogs, lots of bully breeds, often a lack of leash laws and/or a culture that supports letting dogs roam. But at the end of the day, all that matters is having someone in charge who is as committed to finding homes for pets as the old guard was to killing them.

  3. I came across SAS on Facebook last year, and periodically post about them (kudos, events, etc) on my page. I’ve always called them “The Little Shelter That CAN”. :)

  4. Stories like this make animal rescuing so gratifying. Wish i lived closer so i could visit this shelter. that is truelly what a animal shelter is.. a shelter for animals.

  5. 1- This post is so true. It doesnt matter where the shelter is from or how many animals are there, as long as you have committed shelter managers (and staff!) stuff gets done! Hear that, Memphis?!
    2- Sgt. Bailey is my hero. He is awesome! I cant say anything better about the man. Every director needs to do this.
    2- Its so great to hear something positive on this page!

  6. Good people equal good results. Evil people continue killing & their results will remain bad.

    Seagoville’s Shelter is a fine example of what other facilities CAN do. They have proven that killing isn’t necessary, only a bad habit these bad “shelters” don’t want to break.

    Bless Seagoville’s director.

  7. Good job! The majority of dogs I saw for adoption were in the foster program and more dogs will be adopted if they have house manners. There is a really nice looking Border Collie, named Levi available-looks PB! They are having a supply drive on April 21 at a restaurant/saloon in Addison-with a free appetizer coupon for a donation from the gift list. See the info on their Facebook page. I think this is an innovative way to obtain donations!

    I have always said that unless the animals are networked how can they be rescued if nobody knows they are there! The next time I am in the Dallas area I hope to visit this shelter.

    Other shelters always have excuses on why they cannot do this or that-quit wasting time making excuses and come up with ideas and implement them!

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