The Dallas Animal Shelter will not receive updates or improvements this year after being denied a request for bond money by the Dallas City Council.
Meanwhile, council members will likely authorize funds to build a parking lot for the Dallas Zoo.
The animal shelter was built in 2007 and handles tens of thousands of lost and homeless animals each year. The facility can handle 300 dogs, but according to the Dallas Animal Shelter (DAS) website, the shelter is housing more than 400 as of February 13. An additional 738 dogs are in foster care.
DAS requested $114 million in spending from the City’s upcoming $1.25 billion bond program in August 2023 to build a new facility. The request was ignored, according to officials who work with the shelter.
Shelby Bobosky, chair of the Animal Advisory Commission, said that critical information about the shelter and the facility’s needs were not presented to the council members who will determine how to spend the bond money.
“The animal shelter was never treated fairly from the beginning,” Bobosky claimed in an interview with Dallas Culture Map.
The shelter has a long history of mismanagement and has allegedly been ignored by the City, according to a report by the Dallas Observer several years ago. Constant turnover has led to a series of blunders that have left the shelter in disarray and vulnerable to accusations of animal cruelty. In 2010, then-manager Tyrone McGill was accused of allowing a cat trapped inside the walls of the shelter to die.
McGill was eventually acquitted of charges, but the case highlighted the myriad problems with the facility. From poor drainage to air conditioning that did not work correctly, the then-new facility never functioned properly. A general malaise and a lack of clear leadership significantly hindered the shelter from accomplishing its primary task of rescuing animals, according to reports.
In 2020, DAS earned the coveted “no-kill” status, with around 93% of animals being adopted. That number has declined. In 2022, the shelter had a kill ratio of about 18%.
Shelter staff and supporters had hoped that the Dallas City Council would approve funding to replace the aging building with a more modern facility, but according to City spokesperson Jennifer Brown, replacing the shelter is not a priority.
“With so many competing needs throughout the city, the DAS Animal Shelter ultimately was not recommended by the subcommittee for the 2024 Bond program,” Brown said, per Dallas Culture Map.
Shelter advocates hoped that highlighting the issues with the current facility would encourage council members to address DAS’s needs, but some believe the project was never seriously considered. Shelter staff had offered a tour to committee members to demonstrate the issues ahead of the decision to allocate money through the bond program, but no one showed up.
“Since they wouldn’t come take a tour, we created a video and sent that to the committee members instead,” said Rachel Gearing, a member of the DAS Animal Advisory Commission, per Dallas Culture Map. “We felt it was important to show some of the dilapidation of the physical facility that’s happening at DAS. The facility is kind of in shambles — it’s not in great condition.”
On February 5, the Dallas City Council strongly supported spending $30 million on improvements to the Dallas Zoo to keep the privately run facility competitive with the Fort Worth Zoo, as previously reported by The Dallas Express. Dallas residents will likely be asked to vote on the bond program in the May election.