The city of Waco will grant the Animal Birth Control Clinic another $100,000 for low-income spay-neuter surgeries in the coming budget year, city officials announced Wednesday.
City leaders also committed to contributing $500,000 toward a shelter renovation and expansion that could cost up to $2 million, Mayor Malcolm Duncan Jr. said at a news conference where renderings for the project were unveiled.
The city hopes to raise an additional $1 million to $1.5 million for the project to replace aging kennels and build a veterinary clinic and adoption center.
Duncan said the shelter renovation, combined with the spay-neuter initiative, will help Waco reach its goal of having a no-kill shelter.
The nonprofit clinic already has performed 1,600 free surgeries since last October, using the city’s $100,000 contribution, and aims to do least 1,800 in the fiscal year ending in October. The clinic has performed 10,287 total procedures in this fiscal year.
Duncan said the shelter has made great progress since the city took it over in late 2012, raising its live exit rate to well over 80 percent, largely because of the work of outside rescue groups.
“Everybody pulled together to improve the live exit rate and adoption rate,” he said. “But we’re convinced (the problem) has to do with unwanted animals and irresponsible pet owners.”
He said the SpayStreet initiative, launched this year by the city and animal organizations, has been effective in reaching out to lower-income pet owners and nudging them to get their pets sterilized, as city ordinances require.
The SpayStreet program sends teams of city employees and volunteers into neighborhoods to knock on doors and spread the message. They even can arrange free pickup and drop-off of animals for spay-neuter appointments.
Mistie Gonzales, a city wastewater plant worker who volunteers with SpayStreet, said she spent Tuesday evening talking to residents along Calumet Street in East Waco about their pets.
“People were really welcoming and happy that we had vouchers to give out,” Gonzales said. “We haven’t had anyone who isn’t receptive. I get hugs. People say, ‘Thank you for being here.’
“I know we’re making a difference. . . . We’re saving lives and helping the shelter go no-kill.”