The city of Houston recently announced plans to build an “animal campus”, including a 30,000 square foot pet adoption facility, at Gragg Park (2999 S. Wayside). But, building in this location will mean death to many animals in several ways. First, a pet adoption facility in this spot will not increase adoptions significantly because of its remote, out of the way location. As noted in no kill expert, Nathan Winograd’s assessment, one of the reasons for BARC’s high kill rate is because BARC is in an area far removed from retail, residential, recreation, and other prime sectors of the city. It was built in an area of the city with no foot traffic, no retail traffic, far away from where people live, work, and play, ensuring it would be ‘out of sight, out of mind’. The Wayside location is very much like BARC’s current Carr location* which kills 27,000 pets per year. Building an adoption center at the Wayside location will be a death sentence for pets who would otherwise find homes if they were housed and shown in high traffic, highly visible locations all over the city.
Second, this area is in a zip code where BARC picks up the most cats in the city and picks up the third highest number of dogs therefore residents of this area are not likely to adopt pets. A pet adoption facility at this location will also make it easier for people in the area to dump animals. Making it easy to surrender and hard to adopt will not result in lowering of the kill rate at BARC.
Third, this property is also entirely within flood plains**. Covering the property with a 30,000 sq building and 2 parking lots will cause even more flooding in this area. This will put the animals housed there at risk and it will also cause additional flooding to the residential neighborhood next door.
Fourth, citizens have seen Herons, which are a protected species, nesting in the area for years. Although the city is within its legal rights to destroy the homes of these protected birds, it is not morally right or necessary to do so, especially when this construction is such a disaster for so many other reasons.
Animal advocates are against building in this remote location. Residents of the area are also against building on this property, but they are being ignored, lied to or threatened. City council could fix this white elephant by voting to choose another location for the pet adoption center.
* Photos are available of several blocks surrounding the Wayside location and several blocks surrounding BARC’s Carr location as well as the trash filled bayou and onsite sewer treatment facility.