The staff at the Levelland Animal Shelter, including animal control officers, are committed to keeping residents safe from the threat of stray dogs and cats, and are also committed to finding appropriate homes for displaced animals, as can be shown in the recent numbers reported from 2021.
While sometimes, the animal shelter is put in the unfortunate circumstance of euthanizing animals due to space issues, the data shows that is the last resort.
In 2021, only three percent of dogs at the Levelland Animal Shelter were euthanized due to space issues.
An additional three percent were euthanized due to extraneous injuries or sickness, making for a total of six percent of dogs that were euthanized for reasons other than a request by owner.
Animal control officers said oftentimes, local residents will bring their sick dog to the shelter to be euthanized because they cannot afford the bill at the vet. This number makes up 6.4 percent of the total dogs brought into the shelter in 2021.
The good news is that 41.49 percent of the dogs that came into the shelter were sent to rescues and 15.72 percent of the dogs that came in were adopted. Additionally, 23.28 percent of the dogs were returned to their owner.
Crystal Goforth, Levelland ACO, said animal control officers are trying their hardest to keep up with the overpopulation of loose dogs and cats in Levelland. She said there are many reasons for why there is an abundance of stray dogs and cats, but the biggest reason is simply overbreeding.
“They’re strays running around town, or people decided they don’t want them anymore because they get a pet and it doesn’t work out, or they’re moving and can’t take it with them,” Goforth said.
The reason for picking up the animals, Goforth said, is simply to protect the community.
“People pay taxes and somebody has to take be responsible for taking care of these animals,” Goforth said. “The strays can mess with people’s property and tear things up, they can be a nuisance. Not to mention, they can be aggressive and bite people.”
Goforth said the Levelland ACOs do as much as they can to get the word out about the animals at the shelter to either find them good homes or find a rescue willing to take them.
“Every dog that comes in, we first try to find their owners and after they have been here a specific amount of time, they go up for adoption,” Goforth said. “We have rescues that reach out to us all the time and a lot get rescued.
We also have people come in and foster the animals to get them out of the shelter until they’re adopted.”
The ACOs care about the animals and were even able to reunite a mother dog with her lost puppies recently after both were abandoned separately.
“We picked up a dog that was called in as a stray. The caller said the people who lived there had left her behind so we got her and we could tell she had just had babies,” Goforth said. “We started calling around to different rescues and shelters to see if we could find the puppies and someone had taken the puppies and thrown them in a dumpster in Littlefield. We were able to get ahold of the person and get them reunited.”
That story also ended with a happy ending as the mama dog and her puppies were all taken to a rescue.
Goforth said when a rescue contacts the shelter and wants a dog, that dog is immediately tagged and will go to the rescue.
“That’s why it’s so important for us to post the animals to Facebook,” Goforth said. “Rescues take the dogs and get them vetted, make sure nothing is wrong with them and if they have medical issues, they take care of them.
They get them fixed, get their shots, and keep them for a while to make sure no behavioral issues pop up. If they do, they take care of those before adopting them out.”
Rescues even take it a step further. They don’t only vet the animal, they also vet the individuals who are interested in adopting the dog.
“They vet all the people who want the dog and find the right fit for both the person and the dog’s behavior,” Goforth said. “That way, the dog has the best chance.”
Because of the problem with overbreeding, Goforth said Texas law requires animals be neutered or spayed within 30 days of leaving the shelter. If a puppy is adopted, they have six months.
Once the procedure is done, the shelter requires a copy of the appropriate paperwork for documentation purposes.
The shelter tries to encourage this process through vouchers that are available, so long as money is available for the voucher.
“If we have the money, we can hand out vouchers,” Goforth said. “We only give them to people who adopt the dogs and are staying in Levelland.”
The vouchers are worth $70 and are good for three clinics, two in Levelland and one in Lubbock.
“If they don’t get them fixed, one dog turns into 12 dogs and it just keeps them on the street or they can’t take care of them,” Goforth said.
There are no fees for adopting an animal through the Levelland Animal Shelter, but the shelter does encourage those considering adopting to pay careful attention to the application and even bring other animals they may have in the home up to the shelter to see how they interact with the new dog.
The shelter is always seeking additional volunteers who can help out in many areas at the shelter.
“Volunteers can walk dogs, clean kennels, wash food trays, and try to find adopters,” Goforth said.
Anyone who is interested in volunteering at the shelter can fill out an application at the shelter. The minimum age for volunteers is 17 years old, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
For more information, contact the Levelland Animal Shelter by calling (806) 891-0829.