BARC Urges Public to Adopt, Foster, or Volunteer

Live release is a primary objective for the City of Houston’s BARC animal shelter. Euthanasia is the option of last resort and is exercised only after all efforts to find adopters or rescue/fosters for adoptable animals have been exhausted. These efforts include funding subsidies to rescue organizations of $30,000 to pull animals whose time in the shelter exceeds 10 days. It also includes funding for medications and pet supplies to allow pet owners to keep their pets rather than surrender them to homelessness. Each year the City of Houston also spends $488,150 on average, transporting 5,000+ animals to Colorado and other states where the animals are placed in forever homes.

The City’s efforts are also aimed at the source of the stray population by funding community spay/neuter programs — such as BARC’s Healthy Pets, Healthy Streets initiative – which expends  $520,000 annually to support the spay/neuter of approximately 3,500 animals per year. These surgeries are free of cost to Houstonians and are performed through local spay/neuter clinics. And beginning in 2022, the City supplemented its annual spay/neuter funding by $500,000 to allow BARC to partner with additional local organizations such as Houston PetSet, K-9 Angels’ “Empty Shelter Project,” and Houston Spay Neuter. In addition, Mayor Sylvester Turner recently committed an additional $1 million of American Rescue Plan funding to BARC for spay/neuter services over the next four years.  Through this targeted funding, an additional 6,600 animals can be spayed or neutered, as the City continues a long-term strategy targeting pet homelessness and the threat to public safety that a stray animal population may pose. BARC will continue to expand these spay/neuter programs as our partners are able to add capacity.

All of these programs fund local efforts, in collaboration with local partners, to achieve positive outcomes for our shelter animals as well as the homeless animals across the city.

As a publicly funded shelter, BARC has dual missions – seeking positive outcomes for animals while protecting the safety of human beings. BARC is required to accept every animal that comes through our doors regardless of breed, temperament, condition (health), or circumstance. Unlike non-profit animal rescue organizations and shelters, BARC cannot turn away an animal because the shelter is full or because the animal is aggressive, has a severe health condition, or is simply unlikely to be adopted.

Houston-area shelters like BARC have seen a drop in adoptions and fosters. While we have taken measures to address the rising stray population, including adding programs to place our animals in Houston and outside the state, BARC and our foster and rescue partners find ourselves consistently exceeding our capacity. Nationwide, adoption rates have dropped, requiring shelters and rescue organizations to keep animals longer, and resulting in difficult decisions regarding the outcomes for those animals.

The situation facing animals shelters, post-pandemic, is a national crisis. But Houstonians come together to help in times of crisis. The City of Houston is asking for the public’s help in adopting more animals and volunteering to foster or rescue animals.  We are also asking pet owners to spay/neuter their pets and have them microchipped so that they do not add to the stray population. Through July 31, BARC has completely waived adoption fees for all pets, including puppies and kittens, as part of BISSELL Pet Foundation’s summer Empty the Shelter campaign. To meet our adoptable pets, stop by BARC’s Adoption Center at 3300 Carr St. from 12 – 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday or visit to see our adoptable pets.

How else can you help?


Email if you are a business looking to sponsor a BARC program or partner on an event.

About BARC

BARC, the City of Houston’s Animal Shelter and Adoption Center, takes in more than 25,000 animals annually regardless of behavior, breed, or medical condition. BARC works each day to improve Houstonians and their pets’ health and safety by pioneering programs such as low-cost and no-cost spay/neuter services, mobile adoptions, transfer/rescue partnerships, and community outreach.
Through these programs and with community partners’ support, BARC’s live release rate has continued to improve and reached a historic high of 95.6% in the fiscal year 2021.
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