BARC Overflows Capacity

Houston's Bureau of Animal Regulation and Control — known as BARC — is over capacity and needs to make space for more animals. As Laurie Johnson reports — an unusual spike in law enforcement activity has left BARC with no room for strays.

BARC has 550 animal enclosures, but right now they have 590 cats and dogs.

Usually animals come in from owners who can't keep their pets, or from people who find strays.

BARC Spokesman Chris Newport says that's the norm, but this month things have been different.

"We've had two really terrible cases of animal cruelty in the last two weeks. We had nine animals come in as a result of an HPD cruelty investigation and then one of those nine had puppies. Last week we had seven animals come in that were a cruelty case. And then we just got an inordinate number of people that are getting incarcerated that have dogs. I don't know if it's something in the air right now or what, but this is not normal."

Because those cases are all pending, the city has to hold the animals and can't put them up for adoption.

Litters of puppies and kittens under six months can stay together in one enclosure, but state law requires older animals be separated.

Newport says they've exhausted all the flexibility they have and desperately need people to adopt animals out of the shelter to make room for these law enforcement cases.

"We hope that most people will come to BARC and see the reality of shelter animals, which is that these are oftentimes the happiest and best pets that you can find as a family."

Newport says they've reduced the price for adoptions as an incentive. The normal price is $55, but if you've been thinking that a puppy or kitten would be the perfect gift under the Christmas tree you can adopt a pet for $27.50 between now and January 1st.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...