Overcrowding at Montgomery County Animal Shelter Leads to Changes in Operations

Concerns about overcrowding at the Montgomery County Animal Shelter prompted commissioners to appoint County Judge Mark Keough to oversee operations and staff at the shelter.

The action follows an outcry from residents who said the shelter was refusing animals and asking people to keep these dogs and cats for two weeks after the shelter vaccinated them.

MCAS director Aaron Johnson said officers were responding to calls about stray dogs but asking residents to keep the animal for at least two weeks after the shelter provided the vaccination to prevent the spread of disease. . He noted that there are situations where officers take animals in response to a call from a resident.

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Johnson said the underlying issue is the need for new, larger shelter and the continued effort to control disease among the population.

On Wednesday, Johnson said the shelter, which has a capacity of about 180 people, has 363 animals in its care. Of these animals, 53 were cats. The shelter recently participated in a mega-adotion event at the George R. Brown Convention Center where it found homes for more than 100 dogs and cats.

“We need to redo the policy and procedures for animal control officers and what they tell our constituents,” Keough said. “We need to figure out how to get the animals in and out more emotionally. That’s what needs to be done.”

Johnson said he looked forward to working with Keough to create the new policies.

Last August, the shelter stopped accepting animals for two weeks to deal with an epidemic of canine distemper. Distemper is a highly contagious viral disease that affects the respiratory, gastrointestinal and central nervous systems of dogs and other animals such as ferrets, skunks and raccoons. The disease is often fatal.

The shelter moved to an appointment-only admissions process to address the distemper issue.

“We continue to monitor this and keep it under control,” Johnson said previously. “It’s a very big challenge because of the capacity and it’s going to continue to be our biggest challenge. (The appointment system) helped us with the illness, it helped us with the process.

The issue of the capacity of the aging facility has been at the forefront of discussions between shelter management and commissioners for several years.

During budget discussions in 2021, commissioners asked Johnson to begin collecting data for a new structure and to inquire with animal organizations, such as the Montgomery County Humane Society, about potential partnerships.

The 152,469 square foot facility at 8535 Texas 242 was built in 2002 and has a certified value of $2.634 million for 2021 according to the Montgomery Central Appraisal District.

Keough said if adding a new shelter was part of the county’s future growth plan, construction could take years.

“That won’t be the case in the near future,” he said.

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