CONVERSE — Though open only a few months, the Converse Animal Care Facility has fully embraced its role of safeguarding strays and residents alike, officials said.
City Manager Le Ann Piatt noted the municipal building, completed in July and opened Aug. 10, was needed for years.
“With our new facility, we now have the capability to temporarily house stray animals. This keeps homeless animals from destroying personal property and keeps them out of harm’s way by keeping them off city streets,” she said.
Though a local, nonprofit center also exists, until now, Converse never had its own animal-control facility. Operations were conducted out of the Police Department building, and animals removed from the streets went to the neighboring Live Oak animal shelter.
Chad Ensign, manager of the Converse Animal Care Facility, said this was problematic.
“They’re (Live Oak) not a large facility. They’re pretty modest in size, and if they were full, and we had animals called in as stray, they continued to stay stray,” Ensign said. “We didn’t have anywhere to take them.”
Sometimes Converse residents boarded them; otherwise, they remained at large until space became available in Live Oak.
“And, that was mostly just for dogs – there weren’t a lot of cat issues addressed before this facility was built,” Ensign said.
At more than 9,000 square feet, the new lodgings have 28 dog kennels and six additional spaces for quarantine cases. There are also 58 cat cages, and just one can hold a litter of kittens, thereby increasing capacity.
Officials stressed this isn’t a no-kill shelter and shouldn’t be confused with the nonprofit Converse Animal Shelter Inc., or CASI, which doesn’t euthanize.
Although the city handles adoptions for healthy and friendly animals, the new outfit’s primary goal is public safety. Staffers are tasked with removing threatening and ill strays from the streets; they also handle bite cases.
“We have open intake, so if we have an aggressive dog that’s out loose, we’re bringing that dog here. Sick animals that are out, we’ll bring them here the same way,” Ensign said.
When crews find wanderers, Ensign said they check for identification through a collar, tag or microchip. If there’s an ID, owners have five days to retrieve the pet. For those unidentified, the shelter houses them for 72 hours attempting to locate an owner.
A mix of paid employees and volunteers make up the city endeavor.
Meanwhile, CASI, manager Leah Carlisle said the two shelters collaborate as much as possible.
“We do not pick up. If we have openings, we’ll take them in if they come to us,” Carlisle said. “We always check for a microchip because we want to return them home if at all possible before we adopt them out. There’s always a holding period and then we make sure they are spayed or neutered and healthy.”
CASI, run solely on adoption fees and donations, is at 9634 Schaefer Road, across from Judson Middle School, and can be reached at 210-658-4821. The website is mynewbestfriend.org.
Meanwhile, the town shelter, one of four buildings approved by voters as part of a 2015 bond issue, is located at 8755 FM 1516. It was designed by RVK Architects and constructed by The Sabinal Group for $2.5 million.
Converse Animal Care Facility offers low-cost spay and neuter clinics plus microchips almost daily. Handlers also provide reduced-price vaccination clinics twice a month.
According to Ensign, operations are going well and there are already fewer stray canines roaming roads. Also, because Converse passed a microchipping ordinance, pets lacking one receive the marking once inside the facility, increasing chances of being returned to owners in the future.
According to Piatt, the shelter has impounded more than a couple hundred animals since opening.
“That is 200 less strays on the streets of Converse. We now have the owner information for animals that were lost and now reunited with their families,” the city manager added.
For more, visit conversetx.net/292/Animal-Care or call 210-658-5369.