FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Suzette Watkins runs Riverside Kennel in Fort Worth and is the head of the Fort Worth branch of No Kill, an animal rights group.

And she has a problem with Fort Worth’s animal control.

“I think that shelter management is lacking care and compassion and I don’t think they really know what’s going on at the shelter,” Watkins said.

She points to a state inspection of the city’s kennels from March of last year that cites animal shelter’s cages as being overcrowded and littered with stool. And, Watkins says, the city unnecessarily euthanizes animals in its care.
“The stuff at the shelter right now is intolerable and unacceptable,” Watkins said.

“The report from the state is extremely accurate,” said Brandon Bennett Fort Worth’s code compliance director.

Bennett said at the time of that inspection the shelter was doing exactly what animal rights groups wanted — keeping animals longer hoping for adoption or rescue. Those adoptions didn’t keep pace with the number of animals coming in.

“Even through the use of volunteers and community service workers and temporary labor it was still very difficult to stay on top of the pet waste,” Bennett said. “And even more concerning was disease control.”
Bennett had state inspections prior to March of last year and after March of last year.  Neither made note of any overcrowding and waste issues.

Bennett said animal control did learn some lessons with the experiment in March.  They stay open later to accomodate people’s work schedules and try to schedule appointments with people so they can spend more time looking for a new pet.  And, with the help of off-site adoption centers like at Petsmart, Bennett said adoptions are up more than 150% since may of last year.

But then there are dogs like Henry, Bennett’s own rescue dog. Emaciated and ill when he was brought in by animal control officers, Henry had to be quarantined for four months to prevent spreading a virus to other animals. Bennett did that in his home. But there is no place at the shelter for long-term quarantine and care for other animals, Bennett said.

“We try to get them into rescue, try to get them into adoption and if we can’t get them out the door that way unfortunately some of them will be euthanized,” Bennett said.

Bennett said the percentage of animals who found new homes or were rescued hit a record 66% in December.

Watkins said that number is still far too high and animal control can’t achieve a ‘no kill’ operation because it does not want to believe it is possible.