Animals are often put-down daily inside the Marshall Animal Shelter as it has one of the highest kill-rates in the country.
Officials said it’s not just dogs and cats suffering but employees as well.
Marshall’s euthanasia rate is four times the national average. 70 to 80-percent of the animals are euthanized.
“It’s a black-eye on our community. How a community treats their animals says a lot about the communities values,” said Edward Smith, president of the Friends of the Marshall Animal Shelter.
Twice-elected former Mayor of Marshall Ed Smith now runs the non-profit Friends of the Marshall Animal Shelter with the goal of building a new shelter.
“We’re trying to replicate what other progressive cities do around the country that are successful in bringing their kill-rate to either low kill or no kill status,” Smith said.
He said the shelter is the oldest in the state of Texas. It does not have enough kennel space so animals are constantly being put-down to make room. About three-thousand are brought-in each year from across Harrison County.
“The current facility is around 12 to 14-hundred square feet. It was built over 50 years ago. The foundation has collapsed, the walls are rotting out, it can’t be sanitized, so it’s a disease hotel if you will,” Smith said.
He said the condition of the building keeps it from being properly sterilized so it’s a harbor for disease.
So when puppies come in with Parvovirus or cats with upper-respiratory infections there’s nowhere to quarantine them so all the animals are euthanized. This also happens with the kennels outside when it’s too hot in the summer or cold in the winter, there’s nowhere for the animals to go so they’re euthanized.
“We’re not talking about incorrigible animals or animals that are diseased. Most of the animals that come through there are just like anybody’s pet. I mean that’s just what they are. And they deserve a better chance that what we can give them here in Marshall,” Smith said.
It also affects city employees. It’s under-staffed with only three employees managing the shelter and it has to close when they go out on calls.
“The conditions they have to work under are deployable. The bathroom is broom closet and it doesn’t even have a sink,” Smith said.
He said the only solution is to build a new shelter, and the city has the property, the design and the money to do so.
“It’s not as fancy, as some say the Taj Mahal facility. It is the bare minimum components that are required to run a low-kill operation,” Smith said.
He said it would have been the cheapest, newly built shelter Texas in past five years. The plans began in 2012, and more than a year ago the City Commission passed a certificate of obligation to build it.
“The great thing about it is the funding was already in place. The City Commission, we planned for it and budgeted for it and we had a method to fund it in place. And it wasn’t going to fund a tax increase,” Smith said.
But a petition stopped it.
“The unfortunate thing is some people circulated a petition and were successful and had a six signature margin to spare to stop it and force it to a ballot issue,” Smith said.
The city withdrew it from the ballot because if it did not pass there’s three year minimum to bring it back again.
“Because there’s a lot of misinformation out there about what it’s about and what’s needed and what it’s going to and is it going to raise taxes, which it’s not,” Smith said.
He said they’re preparing to bring it back for the ballot in May.
“There’s enough funds available to fully fund this project without raising taxes and without diverting money away from any other projects that are needed within the city. It’s kind of a no-brainer,” Smith said.
The non-profit is developing a public awareness campaign to inform citizens about the new shelter. If you would like to help they’re also looking for more foster volunteers.