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.